Thursday, January 16, 2014
Review: "Ride Along"
"Ride Along" is one of those aggressively dumb movies that almost make you feel bad for it, if it weren't vacuuming 10 bucks out of your pocket and an hour-forty of your life.
The set-up makes not a lick of sense, the characters do nonsensical things unburdened by the laws of man or science, and it tries to skate by on the personalities of its stars, Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.
Hart is a young, short, dizzyingly energetic comedian whose onscreen presence resembles early Eddie Murphy on speed. Ice Cube is not so young anymore, known for his surly sneer, and rather shrimpy himself, though sufficiently taller than Hart for his character to crack all sorts of wee-man jokes on him.
Cube plays James, a tough Atlanta street cop, while Hart's Ben is a high school security guard and police wannabe who happens to be dating James' sister (Tika Sumpter). Ben convinces James to take him on a ride along so he can prove he's worthy of his sister's hand in marriage, while James is out to embarrass Ben enough to wash him out of law enforcement before he's even enrolled in the police academy, and hopefully out of his sister's life, too.
Director Tim Story and his quartet of screenwriters cue up every sticky situation imaginable, with James throwing Ben under the bus in various scenarios where he's expected to resolve the situation without even the benefit of a badge or a gun. This includes wrestling a honey-smeared man acting crazy at the farmer's market and confronting a gang of bikers, with one of dubious gender.
Never mind that in an actual ride along you'll be lucky if the police even let you get out of the car, let alone face down psychotics and stick-up men.
There's some vague plot machinations about dirty cops and a mysterious crime boss named Omar whom nobody as supposedly ever seen. Of course, he soon shows himself in the form of Laurence Fishburne, affording the audience a rare opportunity to witness an Oscar-caliber actor slumming in some really poor writing, and somehow making it seem even worse than it is.
I'm not sure what's harder to watch; the fact that Fishburne is called upon to deliver incredibly overwrought gangsta speech, or that he's very, very bad at it.
There are a couple of laughs in "Ride Along," mostly tied to Hart's manic, sporadically funny shtick. But this is one trip worth skipping.