Director: Tim Story; Writers: Greg Coolidge, Phil Hay, Jason Mantzoukas, Matt Manfredi; Starring: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Tika Sumpter, John Leguizamo, Bryan Callen, Laurence Fishburne, Bruce McGill; Running time: 100 minutes; Certification: 12A
The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, The Dark Knight Rises, Django Unchained. What do these films have in common? Simple: none of them have anything on my excitement at the release of Ice Cube’s new buddy cop comedy, Ride Along. Seriously. I’ve never in all my years been so happy to finally see a film released. Is it because I’m a huge fan of Mr. Cube? Is it because I find Kevin Hart irresistibly hilarious? Is it because I feel we haven’t had enough jovial buddy cop comedies in recent years? Or is it because it meant I wouldn’t have to watch that bloody trailer for the 57th time? I’ll let you decide.
It’s perhaps a testament to how not completely terrible the film is that I begrudgingly stalked into the screening with the lowest of expectations and developed a nasty headache half way through, but didn’t hate it. That’s about the highest praise that can be offered for such a mediocre experience, but credit where credit’s due. Ride Along is not, unlike what I’m sure many critics will try to convince you otherwise, a horrible film. It’s not a film you’ll walk out of feeling hateful (Die Hard 5), disgusted (Movie 43) or embarrassed (I, Frankenstein). It’s just an intensely dull affair that does nothing to convince you that what you’re watching is in any way different or interesting or made with any kind of heart or soul. It’s a committee-made, tacked-together, get it out to make money piece of popcorn fodder that a few people will love but most will feel entirely indifferent towards.
If you have any desire to watch the film all you need to do is click play on the trailer below (though I’d still urge you not to) and you’ll have a pretty decent idea of what happens from beginning to end. It’s essentially a half completed connect the dots book that doesn’t give you the full picture but enough to know exactly what it’s going to be. Watching the film is simply a matter of sitting and waiting for each set piece to ride by – most of which we’ve already seen – and spectacularly unimpress us. Most are fairly standard knock-offs of other movies, the most glaring of which is, during the big set piece in the third act, a moment completely ripped off from Blue Streak – and I don’t need to tell you the trouble we’re in if we’re thinking, “You know what, Blue Streak did this same thing but much better.”.
To be fair to Kevin Hart, he is quite good as the ambitious but immature high school security guard seeking the approval of his soon-to-be fiance’s brother, but he’s about the only funny thing in the film. I can’t think of a single instance where I raised more than a mild smirk at something other than Kevin Hart being stupid. The problem, of course, is that when he’s not being funny he just never shuts his mouth.
There’s no possible way to recommend Ride Along without feeling guilty, but it’s also hard to say avoid at all costs when there are much worse things out there. If you find yourself staring down the first frame, I wish you all the luck in the world. Try to enjoy it. But I wouldn’t bet against a distinct feeling of ‘meh’ come credit time.