6.2/10 – IMDb
18% – Rotten Tomatoes
I stumbled into watching Ride Along out of chance and boredom, and I cannot say I held high expectations. As you can imagine, the numbers above did not help the cause. Usually I tend to ignore such things before seeing a movie myself, but the sub-20 percent certainly caught my eye. Could Kevin Hart really flop that hard? Can we really spend 150 million collective dollars for nothing? I had to find out.
Should I pay to see it?
About four minutes into the movie, I found myself wondering why I had myself, when I know this film will inevitably show up over and over again during some TBS marathon or something of that nature. Let me stop to acknowledge that I very much enjoy listening to Kevin Hart speak and rant and scream in most cases. Here, the movie leans heavily on his ability to make everything sound funny, even a crop of jokes written what I can only assume was halfheartedly. In the driver’s seat there’s Ice Cube, who does nothing egregious but still gets a little tiresome. His James has a couple of gems, dropping in a “today was a good day” and “[you’re] ’bout a chromosome away from dating a midget” when speaking to his sister about her boyfriend, Hart’s Ben. That being said, the cheesy but effective one-liners struggle to fill an otherwise flat 90 minutes of predictable and unconvincing action. By the time the action picks up in the last half hour, you’ll probably be wondering how the story jumped so quickly from bleh to WHOA, and you will almost certainly wish you had waited for the eventual “network television premiere.”
Could I watch it with a date?
As evidenced above, this essentially comes down to how you and your date feel about Kevin Hart. Ice Cube as always does his job, though not quite with the same vigor as in 21 Jump Street, but Hart evokes a far wider ranger of reactions, with some people dying for his loud, screechy humor and others begging for it to stop. In his tryout in the passenger seat of James’ car, Ben does everything from shaking down a young child to handcuff a man covered in honey, but between these ridiculous moments Hart is forced to get laughs with only his voice, crazy eyes, and size at his disposal. I really want to love Kevin Hart; I’m just not sure I can do it for more than the length of a trailer or late night interview. I chuckled during his bouts of overly eager bravado, but it was as much at James’ frustration as it was at Ben’s comedy. I started to side with James regarding Ben’s future as a cop after a while, once it became clear he would not shut up or give up. To me it seems a better movie would have been a traditional buddy cop outing rather than one which forces Hart to handle so much of the comedic burden. Date night won’t be a total disaster if this is your choice, but I recommend channel surfing a little harder for something more worthy of your precious time.
Could I watch it with my mother?
In terms of vulgarity and profanity and what have you, I was surprised by the mildness of the movie, so maybe you can at least make it through the hour and a half beside Mother Dearest, but I hope you two can find better options. The first chunks of the movie make it clear that James is a really bad cop, irresponsible and adamant in his belief that Ben cannot handle the rigor of police life. This basic premise relentlessly fills the first hour of the movie, so patience is required to make it to the final scenes. If you can make it that far, the excitement and laughs may pick up, for Hart hams it up to the best of his ability when pretending to be an Atlanta kingpin, and Laurence Fishburne lowers himself wonderfully to play said kingpin. The climactic scenes do have some clever ironies, as Ben inadvertently saves the day a couple times, using both his unawareness and his extreme video gaming skills to protect James. Simply put, there are a lot of ways to spend 90 minutes, and this is not the optimal option, either for you, your date, or your hopefully beloved mother. Director Tim Story and his writers don’t quite bring the punch you expect, and they stop a little short of undermining the buddy cop genre, which comes back to bite them. Hart and Ice Cube are more than capable of mocking themselves and their defining traits, so why should the movie be afraid to mock its own? Fear not, though, the hefty box office take means we probably have an unfulfilling sequel on the way. Go Hollywood.