Ride Along

Directed By: Tim Story

Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Bryan Callen, Tika Sumpter, and Laurence Fishburne

Kevin Hart seems to be everywhere.  He was in This Is the End and Grudge Match last year.  He's done several stand-up comedy tours all over the country over the last several years.  He's got two big romantic comedies this year with About Last Night and his follow-up to Think Like a Man.  Strangely enough, he's even been on ESPN lately.  All of this points to one big risk for the comedian of the hour.  Hart seems to be risking overexposure.  In fact, he's back in theaters this weekend.  While I'm sure most movie lovers are focused on the Oscar nominations announced this past Thursday, Hart is back in theaters once again with his buddy cop comedy Ride Along.

Ben Barber (Hart) is a slick-talking security guard who aspires to be more.  He aspires to be the kind of man who can provide for his girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter).  He aspires to be the kind of man who can earn the blessing of Angela's brother James Payton (Ice Cube) for her hand in marriage.  Most importantly, Ben aspires to join the police academy and become a cop.  In preparation for all of this, Ben spends his days playing shooter games under the moniker of "Black Hammer".  In one Call of Duty-like game in fact, he's just about unlocked the platinum level.  He believes that this has somehow prepared him for life on the streets of Atlanta.  Since he's been accepted to the police academy, he'll soon see whether that's actually the case.

James, on the other hand, is an actual cop.  He's proven himself time and time again helping to clean up the streets of the city.  He spends his time doing two things primarily, chasing a ghost crime boss named Omar (Laurence Fishburne) and disrupting Ben and Angela's love life.  When Ben informs him about the police academy and asks for his sister's hand in marriage, James is ready to shoot the little midget.  Instead of doing just that, he finds a way to have his cake and eat it too.  James opts to take the self-dubbed "pre-cadet" on a ride along to see if Ben can make it as a cop.  James puts together a series of 126s (annoying situations) to break Ben's spirits.

The only way you can unlock the platinum level on a game is by playing it entirely too much, and that's exactly what Kevin Hart is doing in Ride Along.  We've seen entirely too much of him.  His fast-talking, self-aggrandizing brand of humor has gotten old.  I'm not saying that there aren't some genuinely amusing moments in Ride Along.  Hart is indeed one funny guy and does shine at certain points during the movie as wannabe cop Ben Barber.  However, there aren't enough of these moments for a thinly scripted buddy cop flick like Ride Along that rests squarely on the shoulders of Hart and his co-star Ice Cube.  Moreover, the vast majority of the film's funny scenes were given away by the trailers.

Having been absent from the big screen since 21 Jump Street two years ago, Ice Cube isn't risking overexposure in his role as the tough-talking cop James Payton.  The problem is that his act as the stereotypical angry black man is already old.  Like Hart, he certainly has his funny moments.  For a veteran of the big screen who's done quite well in the comedic genre over the years, it's to be expected that he delivers at least a few hearty laughs.  He just doesn't deliver enough to make it worth your while.

The best part of the film is arguably Laurence Fishburne's Omar.  He gives one cool old school dude.  The problem is that he doesn't have too much screen time.  All in all, Ride Along is a watchable, but forgettable comedy.  It’s not the raucous comedy it should be.  The Black Hammer's first time hitting the streets gets a 0.09% rating.  Have a few mojitos with this one.