None of this seems surprising- as stated before, January is Trash Duty. A cop comedy with Ice Cube and the infinitely marketable Kevin Hart (who appears to be in literally every comedy geared toward an African-American demographic for the foreseeable future) is the perfect movie for this time period: it’ll make a nice profit in a few weeks, and who cares if it’s any good?
Directed by: Tim Story
Written by: Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo
What is surprising is that somebody started to care. Because about 40 minutes into the movie something snaps: Cube and Hart begin having visible fun together. The dialogue gets better, the action is stepped up, and the pace begins to resemble a 1930s screwball comedy. Whether this schizophrenic experience is due to the influence of four different writers on the script, or an odd shooting schedule, or other factors, I don’t know. But I will say this- it’s an enjoyable sort of mess.
Cube plays an Atlanta cop named James who spends half his time attempting to capture a crime kingpin no one’s ever seen, and the other half of the time berating his sister’s boyfriend Ben (Hart), a well-meaning but unserious high school security guard with hopes of being a cop himself. The two worlds collide when James takes Ben on a ride along in order to torture him with obnoxious and phony calls and demonstrate his unsuitability for James’ sister (Tika Sumpter).
Ice Cube is always a fine face to see- we last saw him as the “angry black lieutenant” in “21 Jump Street,” where he cursed, and stared angrily and looked vaguely menacing, which is what Ice Cube likes to do a lot. It’s the same performance here, but his odd-couple pairing with the chatty, diminutive, and not-at-all-menacing Hart adds a thoroughly charming dimension. Together they are not just two halves of a professional partnership, but two different kinds of masculinity in a hyper-masculine situation. While James is a hero-cop, he is also short-sighted and misses details because he insists on working alone. And Ben might have gotten most of his police knowledge from video games and might run his mouth too much, but he’s also meticulous and adaptable, and at one point all that mouth-running ends up saving them both (in a hilarious fashion).
“Ride Along” will most likely wash away with the other January flotsam, and that’s a shame. There’s plenty of bad moments in this movie, but there’s plenty of wonderful ones too. And all in all, it was a good day.