Science has reached the limits of what the buddy-cop movie can teach us. One cop can’t be straight-arrow enough and the other can’t be enough of loose cannon to show us something we haven’t seen roughly 37,542 times before.
Over the past few years, the only worthy scrapings from the bottom of this cinematic barrel have been oddball comedic jazz riffs such as “The Other Guys,” “21 Jump Street” and “The Heat.”
All three of those movies featured a solid actor not typically known for comedies (Mark Wahlberg, Channing Tatum, and Sandra Bullock) paired with an above-average comedian (Will Ferrell, Jonah Hill, and Melissa McCarthy), and each achieved varying degrees of success.
“Ride Along” goes to this well once more, and since the buddy-cop trope is as played out as it gets, its only hope is pinned to its pair of (fingers crossed!) dynamic leads. Enter Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, then adjust your expectations accordingly.
First of all, I’ve got no problem with either one of these guys. After “Boyz n the Hood” and “Friday,” Ice Cube earned the right to show up in movies until he’s old and gray as far as I’m concerned, plus I am never one to disagree with the lights of the Goodyear Blimp.
And Kevin Hart has come along to fill the wise-cracking, fast-talking, Chris-Tucker-sized-hole in our hearts rather nicely.
That said, these aren’t the guys who are going to save this clunky, underwritten movie from the depths of tedium.
The wrinkle here is that Hart plays a police academy enrollee who is dating the sister (played by Tika Sumpter who, for the record, is all kinds of fine) of Ice Cube’s hard-nosed, no-nonsense police detective.
Ice Cube thinks he can run Hart off by taking him on a ride-along and throwing Hart into the middle of the precinct’s most unwanted and degrading calls. There are some amusing moments here, like when Hart, a video game aficionado, gets to handle real guns for the first time at a shooting gallery, but it’s all pretty thin gruel.
The movie’s only real spark comes towards the very end when Laurence Fishburne drops in to vamp it up as a big, bad crime lord, but by then it’s too little, too late.
“Ride Along” is the exact kind of slap-dash effort you would expect to find dumped in January, aka Hollywood’s Wasteland. Skip this one and go catch up on some of the Oscar-nominated movies you might have missed. There are too many good movies in theaters right now to waste your time on more of the same or more of the same.
“Ride Along” is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual content, and brief strong language.