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Established May 2010.


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Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Movie Review: RIDE ALONG

RIDE ALONG
Director: Tim Story
Starring: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Tika Sumpter, John Leguizamo, Bryan Callen, Bruce McGill, Laurence Fishburne


We are only thirty days into the new year, so how is it that I have already seen two Kevin Hart movies? If you read my review of Grudge Match, you may remember my feelings toward his brand of comedy. Some may consider Ben Barber (Hart) a bit of a loser. He plays an interactive "shoot 'em up" type of  video game complete with headset and works as a high school security guard. He finds out he has been accepted into the police academy and could not be happier. For someone that is typically loud and obnoxious, I bet you can just imagine how excited he gets. His life could not be any better as he is planning to propose to his girlfriend Angela (Sumpter). Her brother James (Ice Cube) has other plans for Ben. He is an Atlanta police officer who is not so fond of the idea of not only him becoming a cop, but also that he may be his new brother-in-law.


James decides to put Ben to the test to see if he is worthy of marrying his sister. He decides to take Ben along on all of the annoying and petty calls that the other cops do not want to handle. Ben's high energy and fast talking nature are a bit of a defense mechanism as he is quick to act all tough and mighty but cowers when actual danger and intimidation sets in. It should come as no surprise that there is a side subplot regarding James and his crew (Leguizamo and Callen) against a gang of weapons dealers led by "Omar" whose identity remains a mystery.


The first few times I saw this trailer, I actually found it funny. I was just shocked that I was laughing at a Kevin Hart movie that I would normally not give two thoughts about. I typically do not find him funny in the slightest bit. I was up for seeing Ride Along as I thought this may break my disdain for the comedian. Could I be proven wrong about him? Was he finding his niche? Was I finally embracing the fact that he actually could be funny and that I have been completely wrong about him? His brand/style of comedy is loud, wise-ass, high pitched, high energy and typically jokes around about his short stature. He definitely plays his style in every role. Many stand-up comics do this as they transition into film. People that go to a Kevin Hart film know what kind of humor to expect, which is why I went in with slight hesitation while hoping for the best. At first, I found myself tolerating him. I enjoyed his character and felt a little bad for the guy for the continual slams against him. His style was a bit more reserved in his scenes with Tika Sumpter. I lost focus and found the annoying Hart coming out to play once the ride alongs started happening. That being said, I still had about three good laughs especially during the scene at the shooting range.


The majority of the story is pretty recycled from other comedic buddy cop type of movies. I had the same issue with last summer's The Heat, another movie with a very similar idea behind it. The whole side plot revolving the Omar character has been done numerous times. There is even the not-so-surprising twist that comes into play, which you can pick up on very early on in the movie. I really thought Ice Cube might have been a better actor as well. I am not trying to compare him to Denzel Washington, but he has been in the business long enough where this feels like an amateur performance from a newbie. His tough guy demeanor falls a bit flat. I will say it was great seeing John Leguizamo again. I feel like I have not seen him in anything outside of those Ice Age movies. Do not be surprised if we see another Ride Along in theaters within the next few years. This one seems to be doing well at the box office as Kevin Hart is a hot commodity right now. I am sure a sequel would be cheap and easy to make and the studio can probably make some extra money out of it.

RATING: * 1/2 (1.5 out of 5 stars)

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