Actor Kevin Hart has a thing for standing out in bad movies, offering the only real glimpse of potential comedic genius. He ended last year with the snorer that was Grudge Match, in which he plays a high-energy pipsqueak son of a boxing promoter who left him nothing but a soiled name and a chip on his shoulder. Working alongside proven comedic dead weight like Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro didn’t help the fate of the film.
Now Hart is saddled with Ice Cube in Ride Along, in which he plays a high school security guard telling white folk they’re not supposed to fight and keeping the star basketball player away from the wrong crowd while awaiting entrance to the police academy. This time Hart gets plenty of backup from John Leguizamo and Bryan Callen, but bad writing trumps good acting any day and Ride Along’s flimsy script is scrawled with such a crude hand you might as well put flashing lights on the plot points. It’s all so clichéd and predictable you’ll want to call the rat squad at Internal Affairs.
Hart plays the role of Ben, underachieving security guard and hopeful police academy cadet. But that’s only one half of the diminutive dope: in the realm of the first-person shooter video game, Ben is better known as Black Hammer, a platinum level player who kicks ass with the best of them. But he can’t be a complete schlub; ultra-hot girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter) has her shit together and has to see some real potential to stick around.
That’s where James (Ice Cube) comes in. James is Angela’s brooding, grunting, stone-faced, humorless cop brother. You see, James has never really like Ben, a situation made worse when his sister’s beau accidentally set him ablaze at a barbecue some time ago. When Ben announces his acceptance into the police academy, James feels the hackles on his neck stand up and decides this must be stopped. He has the brilliant notion to take him along for the day at work in the hopes of driving him off the force and his sister for good.
So James plans the most annoying day possible and asks for all the calls no cop wants in the hopes of wearing Ben down. Sure James’s dogged pursuit of the mysterious underworld figure who no one’s ever seen, known only as Omar, can sit on the shelf a day. With the help of his pals Santiago (Leguizamo) and Miggs (Callen), James will have Ben gone by lunch. Until he catches on. Then all bets are off as the entire city of Atlanta metaphorically falls down on him.
Ride Along should never have gotten the training wheels taken off. Sure, you’ll laugh, at all the clips you’ve already seen in the ads. But more often, you’ll role your eyes and remark how you could have done a better writing job in your sleep. And you’d be right.