It’s really hard to dislike buddy cop movies regardless of how many there are out there. Yes, they cover the same territory, one’s always more sour than the other, and though they hate each other in the beginning, they become comrades by the end of the film. It’s all been there, done that, and Ride Along is much of the same. Director Tim Story doesn’t try very hard to make it into anything original, and maybe that’s his whole point.
Ben Barber, AKA “Blackhammer” to the gaming world (Kevin Hart), is a high school security officer and hopeful police cadet. He’s just gotten accepted to the police academy and loves playing video games to the point of obsession. He’s also in love with Angela Payton (Tika Sumpter) and in taking the next steps in their relationship, asks her tough-ass cop brother James (Ice Cube) for his blessing to ask Angela to marry him.
Ben is scared of James, and James doesn’t think very highly of Ben (setting your future fiance’s brother on fire at a BBQ doesn’t help either). Nor does the experienced cop feel that Ben is good enough to be with his sister. So in order to “prove himself” to James, Ben agrees to go with him on a ride along for a day and see if he’s worth his salt as a future brother-in-law and as a cop.
At work, James has been investigating a faceless crime boss named Omar (Laurence Fishburne) with his two buddy cops Santiago (John Leguizamo) and Miggs (Bryan Callen). As the ride along goes through the day, it’s Ben who discovers a few clues that may lead them to who James has been searching for for three years… and what could also gain James’s blessing.
There’s no doubt that Kevin Hart’s a funny guy. And while his ranting is occasionally funny, it sometimes goes on for too long and causes the scene to lose its humor. The second act of the film also involves too much of the same thing: Ice Cube taking Hart to different venues that involve what the police apparently call a “126” call, which is an annoying situation that no cop wants to deal with. One of these 126 calls involve a crazy man at a farmer’s market who douses himself in honey and ends up fighting Hart.
The funniest parts of the movie come in the very last ten minutes or so of the film when all the action’s going down and James and Ben find themselves in a situation they don’t seem equipped enough to handle. This is when the dragged out events of the first three-quarters of the film come into play and finally pay off without being shoved in our faces for humor’s sake.
Ice Cube and Kevin Hart generally make a decent pair onscreen, annoying each other to no end and Hart acting like Ice Cube’s much younger, and scared little brother who hides behind him when the going gets a little tough. And to Hart’s defense, his inexperience as a cop plays heavily into his character and the scenes where he tries to act like Ice Cube’s tough-guy persona.
As a comedy, Ride Along is just okay. It brings a few genuinely amusing moments that entertain, but lacks the ammunition needed to keep the laughs going throughout. Some of the comedy is overdone and too much time is spent on Ice Cube embarrassing Hart in different situations that it becomes a little tiresome after awhile. The finale, however, really amps the entertainment value this movie has to offer, so at least it ends on a good note and goes out in style.