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Ride Along.




Ride Along (PG-13)
Film review

01/23/14
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



 Ice Cube continues his career as gruff dude with a cuddly heart, here playing comedy straight man to the wackiness of Kevin Hart, with Ride Along, a variation on the buddy cop movie that feels like a really long sitcom pilot.

Hey, TBS turned Are We There Yet?, an earlier Ice Cube comedy, into a sitcom, so why not this? They need something to break up all those The King of Queens and Friends reruns.
Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) is excited to be on the brink of major life changes. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, he’s just been accepted into the police academy and hopes to soon join the Atlanta police department. And, now that he knows his professional future is secure, he plans to propose to girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter). The one hitch is Angela’s brother James Payton (Ice Cube). An Atlantic police detective, James doesn’t think Ben is up to either challenge — the police department or marrying his sister. He decides to prove it to Ben by taking him on a ride-along, for which he’s planned lots of difficulty and embarrassment for Ben. But James is also working a case against a criminal named Omar, a man dealing in all kinds of badness who is best known for being unknown — even his men don’t know what he looks like. Even though James had hoped to use the ride-along as an opportunity to haze and discourage Ben (from joining both the police force and his family), he soon finds that the spazzy Ben is actually kind of helpful, in part for his extensive knowledge of weaponry thanks to hours spent playing military video games.
The words “Andy Samberg police comedy” did not have me psyched back before I saw the first episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine but now that Fox comedy is one of my favorites. So maybe the sitcom version of Ride Along would be fun too — one of those shows where writing and ensemble chemistry would make the difference between middling “meh” and being a show worth DVR space. 
As a movie, Ride Along still feels like a concept awaiting good writing and ensemble chemistry. Hart and Ice Cube aren’t bad, but they are still mostly doing their own standard shticks, not developing new characters. Hart here plays, as he so often does, a man who brings to mind a squirrel frantically searching for that nut he knows he buried somewhere around here. Ice Cube can’t seem to let a chance to mug for the camera slip past him — here, the most egregious example is when he winkingly references his own “It Was A Good Day.” (Hey, wanna feel old? The song was released 21 years ago February. You’re welcome.) 
Ride Along is exactly what it promises it will be — a movie built as a frame for not-trying-too-hard comedy from Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. C+
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong language. Directed by Tim Story with a screenplay by Greg Coolidge and Jason Mantzoukas and Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi, Ride Along is an hour and 40 minutes long and distributed by Universal Pictures. 
 
As seen in the January 23, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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