Published Jan 16, 2014The buddy-cop comedy formula that pits two mismatched partners together has been done so often that it's hard to imagine a way it could ever feel anything but stale at this point. While Ride Along hardly pushes the genre into any new territory, it does plug an impressive cast into all of the familiar roles while peppering the script with enough inventive humour to make it a worthwhile entry to stand alongside 48 Hours, or at least Nothing To Lose. If you happen to enjoy a good cheeseburger, then there's something reliably satisfying but innately hollow about consuming a relatively average one like this.
With the encouragement of his girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter), Ben (Kevin Hart) believes he can translate his skills in military videogames into a career in law enforcement and is planning to enroll in the field. Her brother James (Ice Cube) is an Atlanta police officer doggedly pursuing a mysterious kingpin named Omar, who is so reclusive that not even his crew knows what he looks like (though if you do the math after seeing the opening credits, you'll probably surmise that he must resemble Laurence Fishburne).
Thinking that he will easily quell the ambition of the motor-mouthed pest dating his sister, James agrees to take Ben out on patrol to experience the frustration of dealing with a few minor disturbances and expose his shortcomings (a good time to mention that there are many jokes about Hart's diminutive stature). The hitch in this plan is that Ben keeps becoming more entangled in James's hunt for Omar by stumbling over clues relating to the case almost inadvertently at every turn.
Amidst all of the predictably antagonistic banter between Ice Cube and Hart there are a couple of scenes that land some big comic moments, with Hart barreling into incredibly dangerous situations with the bravado and confidence that helped him become such a successful stand-up comedian. If he comes across as abrasive at times (and he certainly does), then that only helps make Cube's incredulous looks all the more amusing. Even the smaller roles in the film are filled out nicely with talented comedians John Leguizamo and Bryan Callen as fellow officers and veteran character actor Bruce McGill as their lieutenant.
It's fitting that the duo should continually reference Training Day as they are out patrolling the city streets; the movie feels as if it was specifically designed to ease the recent transition of Hart from the stand-up world to movie screens by putting him in the most comfortable vehicle imaginable for audiences to embrace him. Here's hoping then this is merely Hart warming up and getting his sea legs before graduating to something a little more adventurous than this by-the-numbers exercise.