Director: Tim Story.
Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Tika Sumpter, John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Bryan Callen, Laurence Fishburne.
Running Time: 99 minutes.
Synopsis: Ben (Kevin Hart) is a lowly High School Security Guard who happens to be engaged to the girl of his dreams. Unfortunately, her tough, no-nonsense cop brother James (Ice Cube) doesn’t approve. Hoping to impress his future brother-in-law and earn his respect, Ben accompanies him on a police ride around Atlanta, leading to all manner of explosive events.
Once in a blue moon, there comes along a film that perplexingly rides high and becomes a box office success, despite not being very good. Last month, RIDE ALONG took the US Box Office by storm, earning dollar after million-dollar whilst spending three glorious weeks in the top spot. So the fact that it’s entirely soulless, unoriginal and incredibly unfunny is quite a disappointment, especially for us poor British folk, who don’t have much to look forward to these days besides torrential downpours and the occasional police car driving by.
Another entry into the now overdone ‘Good Cop/Crap Cop’ sub-genre, what’s majorly disappointing here is that RIDE ALONG offers very little in terms of originality or invention. Lazy recycled gags such as getting thrown backwards by a gun blast or the little guy attempting to put the fear of God into a tough biker gang are wheeled out of retirement and put on show for us all to see, with no clever or added ironic twists. The action is solid enough, but when you’re trying to make an out-and-out comedy, the action shouldn’t be the one element that makes the best impression. Other plot threads fail to lead anywhere at all, resulting in many setups without a final punchline, with the central investigation plot woefully underwritten and lacking in any real intrigue. A last-minute twist fails to shock as much as the film fails to entertain, and the video game gags in the climax may well represent some of the worst, most contrived comedic pay-offs this side of an Adam Sandler movie.
It doesn’t help that the central relationship between tough as nails James and the inept Ben is equally devoid of originality. We’ve seen the over-protective family member and the annoying, over-eager boyfriend shtick rear its head in countless comedies, and there’s nothing between the two of them here to suggest that the writers put much thought into their relationship. There’s no growth, no revelatory moments, and pretty much no sense of development whatsoever. Kevin Hart and Ice Cube give good performances (even if they are playing typical walking-talking movie clichés), their chemistry and comedic timing together clearly natural and very real. It’s just a darn shame that they don’t get many chances to use that comedic timing to any great effect.
Despite making a ton of dollar at the box office, it’s hard to imagine anyone who paid their hard-earned cash to see RIDE ALONG actually walked out of the movie theatre with a grin on their face. Lacking in substance, originality and, most disappointingly of all, laughs, RIDE ALONG is one ride not worth taking.
(2 / 5) RIDE ALONG is released in UK cinemas today.