There’s a scene early on in Ride Along where Ice Cube’s character James, a pompous tough cop, is chasing a criminal and drives through a car completely engulfed in flames. Just thinking about it now makes me want to sink into my chair permanently. It was borderline ridiculous on so many levels, but it was all made that much worse because I could sense was the film thought it was so cool doing so. This was a running theme throughout the painfully unfunny Ride Along, a film that drowns deep within its own hubris, which is all completely undeserved.
If you somehow avoided Ride Along’s trailer, the film is about Ben Barber’s (Kevin Hart) struggle to win the approval of the previously mentioned cop James Payton, so that he can marry James’ sister Angela (Tika Sumpter). Ben doesn’t impress James at all, and why should he? Ben spends all his time playing video games, and works as security at a local high school. He has plans to become join the police academy and become a full time cop. Only James’ wants nothing to do with him, whether as a cop or as a potential brother-in-law.
In order to prove his worth to James, Ben goes on an ride along with James. This is basically a test run for Ben to see if he has what it takes not only to join the police force, but to marry James’ sister. The test isn’t designed for Ben to succeed, but rather for James to scare Ben off completely.
The problem for Ride Along is simple. It’s not funny. Not even close. Ice Cube is just playing himself throughout the film, not offering much. Kevin Hart has a few moments sprinkled here and there, but the film just tries too hard to be funny without actually coming close. Don’t ask how but somehow John Leguizamo and Laurence Fishburne were dragged into participating in this unfunny mess. They’re better than that – but maybe the paycheck came a calling.
Tim Story directed a script written by a group consisting of Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Matt Manfredi, and Phil Hay. I can just imagine them all hashing this out lazily in a room, just scrapping enough by so they could stamp Ice Cube and Kevin Hart’s name on it for a quick box office haul. There’s nothing here that you haven’t seen before, aside from the predictable lazy comedic writing that has become grating and tiresome. This is the sort of buddy cop film that makes you appreciate films like Rush Hour just that more.