Ride Along Review

The Plot:

A computer game obsessed high-school security guard with dreams of being a real life hero spends a day on the streets with a genuinely tough Atlanta cop, in a bid to prove himself worthy of marrying his sister. The mismatched team bicker their way through an adventure that sees them inadvertently caught up in the plans of a mysterious local crime lord.

The Good:

Ice Cube has a stern scowl and surly voice that makes playing a perpetually angry inner-city detective easy work. Likewise comedian Kevin Hart makes the most of his tiny body and big grin to play an overly optimistic wimp. It’s comfortable typecasting for both leads that plays to their respective strengths.

The film never makes the mistake of taking itself seriously and is at its best when acknowledging its own ridiculousness. Ice Cube shooting an occasional bemused expression right down the barrel of the camera is actually more genuinely amusing than much of the scripted comedy. Although Hart deserves some credit for enthusiastically getting shot, beaten and otherwise abused in the search for humiliating laughs.

The film also manages to offer a few familiar faces in supporting roles. The presences of people like John Leguizamo and Lawrence Fishburne adds production value, albeit with limited screen time.

Overall Ride Along occasionally hits its stride with slightly better lines and mostly physical comedy. These flashes of entertainment keep the whole ride just about watchable without ever coming close to being memorable.

The Bad:

Ride Along is heavily reliant on a very simple comedic formula. It’s yet another mismatched buddy comedy, offering a typically contrived excuse for throwing two opposites into the same cop car. Producing mixed results at best it rarely stretches itself beyond a comfort zone that offers few original ideas.

Kevin Hart has a significant American fan base, but to a largely uninitiated international audience he will likely prove an acquired taste. You may find yourself quickly sympathising with Ice Cube’s frustration at Hart’s character’s irritating antics. It’s a performance that blatantly mistakes constant noise and physical ineptitude for likeability or underdog charm. In truth only Hart’s diminutive stature prevents his shrill persona from proving entirely unlikeable.

Ice Cube is undoubtedly well practiced at distributing an endless stream of grumpy one-liners while wearing a permanent frown. However it’s a one note performance that felt better suited for his supporting turn in 21 Jump Street than as one of this film’s joint leads.

The Ugly Truth:

Ride Along is an uncomplicated journey that should mostly please its target audience with a mix of silly slapstick and overly familiar genre clichés. It might not be entirely original, but neither is it ever entirely unwatchable. Existing fans of Ice Cube and Hart may find it more enjoyable than most. However, a recently announced sequel will certainly need to find a lot more to offer a wider audience.

Check out our recent interview with Kevin Hart below talking about his stand up movie, Grudge Match and Ride Along:

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