All great buddy cop comedies have some things in common: polar opposites forced to partner up, great chemistry, great comedy, with everything ending with those two opposing forces learning something about each other. Ride Along has all the ingredients for a buddy cop film, but ultimately it just doesn’t add up for a great buddy cop comedy.
Now that isn’t to say that Ride Along is a bad movie across the board. Kevin Hart and Ice Cube are both very talented comedians who know how to tickle anyone’s funny bone. But the two don’t have any on screen chemistry. Then there is the other problem of seeing everything in Ride Along someone before. The film borrows from other buddy cop films and uses every trope in the buddy comedy handbook, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you can’t execute it properly, it just ends up muddled and a giant mess.
Kevin Heart plays Ben who joins James (Ice Cube), his potential brother-in-law, on a 24 hour ride along – get it?- in order to get his blessing to marry Angela (Tika Sumpter), James’ sister.
Ben believes he has what it takes so survive the 24 hour ordeal, seeing that he is quitting his job as a high school security guard after being accepted into the police academy. Surely something like that would impress James, who has a reputation for being a reckless I-don’t-need-a-partner-because-I-am-a-total-badass. So in order for James’ plan to work, he takes Ben on menial calls, and putting him into situations that are beyond his control, all the while he is actually taking care of a case he was just kicked out of.
Ironically it’s when these two aren’t on the case or involved in the actual plot that this film is funny. Taking wise cracks at each other, watching Ben think he can handle a shotgun. But once the film get’s into the thick of it, it becomes a droll and dull comedy that pulls from bits and tropes we have seen before.
It’s obvious that James will do anything to protect his sister, and it’s obvious that Ben will do anything to get that blessing he is so desperately looking for. And while we have seen James’ character more times than we can count, it was actually pretty funny (and cute) to see Ben do everything he can to impress James. But neither of them have any chemistry. I mean it quite literally, the characters may not like each other very much, but nothing between the two works.
While the incompatibility of the two is very clear, the actual comedy that occurs between them is few and far in between. Putting Hart and Cube may have been a good idea on paper, but their onscreen presence amounts to nothing. But when they strike a chord, it is very funny. Problem is, there are just so few of them, it’s hard to remember which ones to actual mention in this review. It honestly doesn’t look like the two are having very much fun with the weak script either. And for that, the audience has to suffer the pains of jokes we’ve all heard before, stupid cop acting like a fool, stupid cop shooting an unarmed suspect, badass cop accepting stupid cop finally for having the balls to shoot an unarmed suspect to get the info. It’s all be done before.
James’ quest to put an end to the charade that is the Ben and Angela engagement combined with the razor thin plot and predictability does more harm than good. In fact, the film is reduced to being a series race jokes, random acts of screaming, stupidity, and personal insults, none of which are witty, sharp, or funny. Hart’s physical comedy of Kermit the Frog arm flailing wore thing really fast and got to the point of me questioning if writers still think this will make people laugh. Again, haven’t we seen all of this before?
It’s so easy to fall back on the “It’s a January release, what do you expect” excuse. So let’s fall back on it again. That being said, Ride Along could have benefited from using less of Hart’s screaming and flailing and more of his stand up comedy genius.