Sunday, January 19, 2014

Review: Ride Along

Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.
"Ride Along" isn't a bad movie so much as an unnecessary one. It's filled to the brim with cliches, attempting to be a lightweight version of "Training Day" with Ice Cube in the Denzel Washington role, although his character isn't a crooked cop, and Kevin Hart as Ethan Hawke, but significantly goofier.

This is the type of comedy that elicits more smiles than it does laughs. And although I remember laughing hard at least once, I can't remember exactly what it was that made me do so.

In the film, Hart plays a school security guard named Ben whose devotion to video games has begun to annoy his live-in girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter). Her brother, a grumpy cop named James (Ice Cube), does not approve of the relationship, so in a desperation move to win his approval, Ben tells James that he has been accepted to the police academy.

James has Ben join him for a ride along to prove his worth, but plans on using the time together to harass his sister's boyfriend, rather than bond.

Of course, since this is a crime comedy, there's got to be a legion of bad guys up to no good. In this case, it's a mysterious and rarely seen criminal named Omar (Laurence Fishburne) who is negotiating a weapons deal. Naturally, some crooked cops are involved and criminals from abroad (in this film, Serbians).

So, don't come to "Ride Along" expecting any surprises as you won't find any. What makes all of this by-numbers filmmaking tolerable is the casting. The ubiquitous Hart is funny enough, despite the filmmakers' insistence on attempting to make his character as annoying as possible. And Ice Cube, despite being given little to do here other than scowl, always has screen presence.

It seems required that Hollywood has to offer up at least one film with this formula each year, so here's to hoping that this one will be adequate enough to not require any more for a while.

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