Ride Along – 2014

Director Tim Story
Starring Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Tika Sumpter, Laurence Fishburne
Screenplay Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi

Ice Cube is one of the most likable stars out there.  It must be the permanent scowl.  Ever since the movie BarberShop, the secret’s been out, though.  The director of BarberShop, Tim Story, has had a consistent career.  Almost every one of his films has made money, well except for Hurricane Season, but that was a high school sports drama.  Story’s valiant (and financially if not artistically successful) attempts at The Fantastic Four notwithstanding, he’s had a winning career.  He’s even directed a few of the Kevin Hart comedy specials.

Kevin Hart has been in a ton of films.  Most of us wouldn’t know it, unless we saw him once more in those films.  That’s what one sees in an aspiring career.  So now, we get to see what Hart can do with a little help from an established star like Cube.  The result is nothing you haven’t seen in 50 better and, say 1000 worse films.  I honestly cannot imagine why it took 4 writers to craft this plot, when most of the laughs seem to be spontaneous reactions by Hart.

The story is about aspiring police officer, Ben Barber (Hart) who is dating the sister (Sumpter) of a hard as nails Atlanta Police detective James Peyton (Cube).  Trying to win a spot on the police force and the approval of his potential Brother In Law, he agrees to go on a Ride Along with Peyton.  He gets to experience a series of 126 (nuisance) calls.  When Barber gets a whiff of what is going on, he calls Peyton’s bluff at exactly the wrong time.

The point to Ride Along is not to give an original, or in any way a harrowing story.  It’s easy to see what’s going to happen from the first scene.  The point to this movie, like any buddy cop movie, is to see the chemistry between the duo.  After taking a while to warm up, Cube and Hart show that they have it.  Somehow, we get to see Barber’s gaming skills actually help to solve crucial parts of the case.  This assumes that the video game makers work harder than the scriptwriters to achieve authenticity.

Ride Along is not an ambitious film, but it succeeds at what it sets out to accomplish.  The career of Kevin Hart has officially achieved overdrive.  How long it stays there depends on  a few things, like who he works with.  He’s done pretty well so far.  Let’s hope he’s smart enough to continue to dance with who brung him.

(***1/2 out of *****)

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