Monday, January 20, 2014

Ride Along

Two stars is overly generous for the Kevin Hart-Ice Cube cop comedy “Ride Along,” but it’s so much more enjoyable than “G.B.F.” or “The Rocket,” I can’t squeeze them into the same star rating.

Hart plays Ben Barber, an Atlanta high school security guard who dreams of joining the police force, and Cube plays James Payton, a lone-wolf police detective and the disapproving brother of Ben’s girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter). When Ben gets a letter inviting him to the police academy, James figures the best way to deter him – and show Angela what a wuss Ben is – is to invite him on an all-day ride along full of “126”s – code for annoying and bottom-priority incidents like bikers parking in a handicapped spot or a wacko covering himself in honey and writhing on the floor at a farmer’s market.

Director Tim Story aims for the butting-heads hilarity of the “Beverly Hills Cop” pictures, but loses control of “Ride Along” to a risible plot involving Serbian arms dealers and a mysterious, rarely-seen overlord named Omar (Laurence Fishburne, beginning to approach the girth of James Earl Jones). Cube mostly trash-talks and glowers menacingly at Hart, who screeches his way through 100 minutes of jive. Still, there are five or six huge belly laughs in “Ride Along,” and I laughed hard even thinking about them afterward. The mostly full audience laughed more than I did, even applauded a few times; they were very into it.

I laughed loudest in the very last scene before the end credits. There’s been a climactic shootout, and Hart is nursing a wound from a bullet that went straight through his leg. But as he, Cube and Sumpter stand around wrapping up, the filmmakers have the nerve to wrap her in a blanket. Why the fuck does she need a blanket? Oh, yes – because she’s a woman!

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