Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo
Directed by: Tim Story (“Barbershop,” “Fantastic Four”)
Written by: Greg Coolidge (“Employee of the Month”), Phil Hay (“Clash of the Titans”), Matt Manfredi (“R.I.P.D.”) and Jason Mantzoukas (debut)
The romantic haze of filmmaking, of actually producing a movie that will be projected in theaters across the world to the potential delight of millions, often muddies the outlook on what real fate a film faces: the way people are going to be watching this in their living rooms for the rest of eternity. Children’s movies from your Pixars, your Disneys, your Dreamworks Animation tend to live on as both genuine entertainment for families and parent-initiated distractions for kids too young to be in school. Sci-fi and superhero movies are revered by nerds and their ilk, dissected and discussed across basements and the internet forever. And so-so, mostly-inoffensive comedies like “Ride Along” are condemned to walk the earth as a constant Saturday afternoon staples on cable networks like TBS.
“Ride Along” finds Ben (Kevin Hart), a mouthy security guard about to join the police academy, preparing to propose to his fiancée Angela (Tika Sumpter). Getting the blessing of Angela’s tough police officer brother James (Ice Cube) will be difficult, Ben realizes, so he joins James on a police ride-along to prove his worth. While James plans to shake Ben from both his marriage plans and his dream of entering the police academy by taking him along on a slew of annoying calls that come across the scanner, the duo stumble into the middle of a weapons-smuggling ring led by the mysterious Omar, a kingpin looking to take over the streets of Atlanta.
Despite the comedic chops of both Hart and Cube, “Ride Along” just isn’t that funny, and the cop movie clichés strung together aren’t enough to hold the movie up as anything more than a mild distraction. Sure, there are funny moments and good laughs to be had, like a scene where Hart passes himself off as an unknown criminal, but everything else is just so forgettable. Director Tim Story, of “Barbershop” and “Fantastic Four” fame, seems content on letting the well-honed personalities of his leads carry the film. Sure, Hart plays a great small-statured motor mouth while Cube has the role of the put-upon hard ass down pat—parts they were both born to play—but that’s really all there is to the movie. So here’s what I want you to do: wait two years, then turn on your TV. Use your DVR’s search function to find “Ride Along” playing somewhere on basic cable and leave it on in the background while you’re cleaning the house or something. You won’t be disappointed.