The “buddy cop” movie is a tried and true movie trope that goes back decades. It usually requires putting together two cops or crime-fighters that have nothing in common; and probably don’t like one another (48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, etc.). They eventually find common ground to defeat an enemy that neither can defeat alone.
Ride Along is that, but a little something extra as well. Ben Barber is a security guard at a high school who is in love with a wonderful woman, Angela, and wants to be a better person for her. He applies to the police academy, because he wants to be a cop, but he also hopes to finally win over her cop brother, James. James is exceptionally protective of Angela (I believe it’s due to a backstory in which their dad was also a cop, and was killed on the job, so now he’s very cautious with her – although that’s never really explained all that well), and is a working a big-time case involving the mysterious ‘Omar’, who no one has ever seen. After a botched attempt to get information, his boss warns him off the Omar case, and right at that moment, Ben lets him know he is going to the police academy, and asks for approval to marry Angela. In the hopes of scaring off Ben, James takes him on a Ride Along for a day, taking all the annoying calls, hoping to terrify Ben into quitting, both the academy and Angela. Hijinks ensue.
This movie was directed by Tim Story – who also did the two Fantastic Four movies. Despite how you felt about those (I actually liked them), you can agree that Story can direct action. Of course, he’s also directed Think Like A Man and Babershop – so he’s familiar with both these stars, and can shoot a good comedy. Adding in the comedy element makes this watchable. It’s not fantastic, but it is exactly what you expect from it.
- Kevin Hart plays Ben and while he seems to be a suddenly rising star, the truth is he has been rising for several years. His stand-up is really funny, and he’s a great improv comedian. If it had been anyone else in this movie, it would be far less watchable, as it is not original, and not really all that great. I almost wish they had let him go a little more. You can tell the scenes that he is improv-ing, and really, those are the best ones. The movie would have benefitted from a few more. He is only going to keep getting better, and I cannot wait to see what else he will do.
- Ice Cube continues to play Ice Cube in movies. James is not a stretch for him, and really his job in this is just to play the straight man to Hart’s funnyman. He’s capable, and I certainly respect the career he has built for himself. As long as he stays in his box, he’s great.
- Tika Sumpter plays Angela, and really she has almost nothing to do – she’s just there to play the guys off one another. She does get put in some danger by the end of the movie, so it was fun to see that as the daughter of a cop she was capable.
- John Leguizamo plays Santiago – another cop that James has been working with. Leguizamo is another accomplished stand-up, and I was desperately wishing for a scene in which he and Hart got to play off one another. That never really happens, and seems like a loss. Go watch Spawn again and try to figure out what he’s doing inside that clown suit.
- Former MadTV pool boy (and also stand-up) Bryan Callen plays Miggs, Santiago’s partner. He and Leguizamo get a couple of scenes to work their humor; and have fun, but again, not enough.
- Bruce McGill plays Lt. Brooks, the cop boss. Honestly, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him as that character multiple times before. Although, I am not sure I’ve ever been able to see him as anything other than MacGyver’s buddy. He and his mustache did a great job.
- Laurence Fishburne reaches back into his Boyz in the Hood memories to play Omar. He’s got just a couple of scenes, but he’s a serviceable bad guy – in case you forgot, or haven’t seen Predators. Hey, you should see Predators.
Like I said, it’s not great, it could have been better – but it’s exactly what you thought it would be, and delivers what it promised. It’s just over an hour and a half, which is the right amount of time for a movie like this. It probably could have even been about 10 minutes shorter. And, as the sequel has been announced, there will be more of the same.
6 out of 10. Gained points for Hart yelling at that child, and for him yelling at that stripper. Lost points for not properly using all of it’s stand-up comedians. Gained points for Fisburne’s entrance, and for Hart pretending to be Omar.
Bonus Video 1: Tim Story’s Think Like A Man – see this just for Hart in the basketball scene
Bonus Video 2: Tim Story’s Barbershop – in case you haven’t seen it – which would be insane.
Bonus Video 3: Predators, there’s a bunch of reasons to see this, Topher Grace creeping you out, Danny Trejo being awesome, Adrian Brody pretending to be tough, but first and foremost - Laurence Fishburne being completely crazy.
Bonus Video 4: Ice Cube and Kevin Hart with Conan O'Brien.