Ride Along

Posted by Joel Copling on February 9, 2014

When the third act of "Ride Along" occurs, the only real reaction to a massive, gaping, hilariously enormous plot hole and screenwriters Greg Coolidge, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi, and Jason Mantzoukas' insistence upon completely avoiding it is an exasperated, defeated sigh. That's not meant to be taken as proof of some over-stated awfulness on the film's part--if anything, it's a signal of a downtrodden product that resembles a lightly enjoyable diversion, none of which one retains by the end--but as proof of a significant sort of laziness on the part of said screenwriters and director Tim Story. The latter's propensity for flat composition and bland staging is more evidence to the hypothesis that no one is particularly trying.

The plot tries to be complex--or convoluted--to no avail. Ben Barber (Kevin Hart, whose improv bucket overflows by the twenty-minute mark) and Angela Payton (Tika Sumpter) have been dating for a while, it seems, and the former is ready for the next step: engagement. The latter is convinced, but as she and brother James (Ice Cube, whose performance vacillates between bored and much better than this material deserves) are the only family each other has, Angela knows that James' protective instinct would take over. He's a cop, and he would want to know that Ben (who is trying to become a cop himself) is the right man for her hand in marriage. His solution: to bring Ben on the titular cop/rookie activity, during which they have a series of misadventures that spirals into something sinister.

None of this is all that funny, though here and there Hart's quips get chuckles, and only slightly more is particularly affecting, though that James' affection for Angela extends even to offer shadowing Ben, whom he cannot stand, is naturally rather sweet. The increasingly shallow plot strains for some sort of rhythm, ultimately settling for that of a rabbit stuck in molasses. Laurence Fishburne makes a third-act appearance as a drug lord, two of James' partners are predictably suspicious, and then the gaping hole in the film's consideration of trivial things such as common sense (enough that an audience member behind me vocalized it in confusion) comes along and destroys everything before it. Thank goodness it was so slight before this point.

Film Information

Ice Cube (James Payton), Kevin Hart (Ben Barber), Tika Sumpter (Angela Payton), John Leguizamo (Santiago), Bruce McGill (Lt. Brooks), Bryan Callen (Miggs), Laurence Fishburne (Omar), Dragos Bucur (Marko), Gary Owen (Crazy Cody), Jacob Latimore (Ramon), Jay Pharaoh (Runflat), Benjamin "Lil P-Nut" Flores (Morris the Kid).

Directed by Tim Story and written by Greg Coolidge, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi, and Jason Mantzoukas.