Here’s the thing. I’m not mad at Ride Along. I’m not even frustrated with Tim Story’s buddy cop comedy. I’m not miffed, put off, or even slightly perturbed with it. I’m just kind of numb. Barely laughing in a comedy will do that to a person.
I’m writing this review moments after watching the thing because I’m worried I’ll start forgetting portions of it. This vehicle for Ice Cube and Kevin Hart is slowly dissipating from my head and into thin air.
Ride Along is harmless, but it also doesn’t meet its comedic mission statement.
Story’s film came close to making me heartily chuckle. I mildly snickered before the jokes were needlessly stretched by Hart’s incessant motor mouth and Cube’s raised brow.
Hart didn’t amaze me with his stand-up comedy in last year’s Let Me Explain (which Story co-directed), but I think he’s a performer who works better with another person on screen. He appears to be more self-assured with his deliveries when paired with someone to bounce zingers on and off of – nothing wrong with that at all. He just needs stronger material.
My light giggles happened when Hart’s do-gooder character, Ben, was thrown into a situation where he’s left to flounder. Like Hart has shown in his stage routine though, he doesn’t know when to stick his landing and wrap up the tomfoolery. Story, who’s supposed to know this comedic timing even more, lets Hart ramble until the script calls for an interruption.
Cube usually knows how to play a good straight man, and he continues to prove this in Ride Along. In the film, he plays a protective older brother to Ben’s girlfriend and is willing to test Ben to see if he’s “man” enough to be welcomed to the family. Cube, who has shown recently that he loves playing these amusing intimidators, is able to hold his own next to Hart’s frantic personality, and he’s able to competently keep the scene on target despite Hart swinging on tangents.
What cripples Ride Along is its formulaic script and Tim Story’s uncaring attitude. Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay, and Matt Manfredi (that’s right, four writers!) provide the skimpy set-ups and then rely on their leads to jumpstart the comedy that’s supposed to ensue. This system may please those who are attending Ride Along to see Hart “have at it”, but the situations don’t provide a heck of a lot of groundwork for these charismatic actors to spring off of.
Cube, who is also attached as one of the film’s producers, looks as if he’s always waiting for more in a scene. As a producer, you would think he’d take this opportunity to bring the writers and Story aside to figure out ways to punch up the material.
Story doesn’t exactly have a great directorial track record when it comes to action flicks (Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Taxi). With Ride Along, Story doesn’t add any originality to shoot-outs or car chases, and he doesn’t elevate the quality above any miscellaneous early-2000’s action/comedy starring Martin Lawrence.
There’s not a whole lot going for Ride Along in the realm of booming action or side-splitting comedy. All it has are two leading men trying to do everything they can to make this fluff into something noteworthy. But, when the lifeless odds are stacked as conventionally as they are against Hart and Cube, I’m surprised the actors didn’t surrender altogether.