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New Release Review - Ride Along

In an attempt to end their relationship, a gruff cop takes his sister's boyfriend on a ride along.

Directed by: Tim Story
Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Tika Sumpter, John Leguizamo, Laurence Fishburne




Nebbish high school security guard Ben (Hart) desperately wants two things from life: to marry his unfeasibly hot girlfriend, Angela (Sumpter), and get accepted into police academy. When he receives notice that his application for the latter has been successful, Ben sets his sights on making an honest woman out of Angela. Standing in the way, however, is her brother, James (Cube), a rough, tough and gruff Atlanta PD detective who highly disapproves of Ben becoming his brother in law. Desperate to win his approval, Ben accepts an offer of accompanying James on a "ride along".
The buddy cop template is one that's so simplistic, any movie employing it should write itself. Strange then that it took no less than four (four!) writers to cobble together the script for Ride Along, a surprise box office smash Stateside earlier this year. The film's plot is hardly what you'd call labyrinthine and most of the dialogue sounds like the actors are making it up as they go along. But no other industry rewards failure as consistently as Hollywood, so if you look at the previous scripts worked on by this quartet you'll see such cinematic travesties as Aeon Flux, the Clash of the Titans remake and RIPD.
It's the latter turkey that Ride Along is most reminiscent of. Where that movie borrowed heavily from Men in Black, Ride Along harks back to such eighties cop movies as 48 Hrs, Running Scared and Lethal Weapon and puts their formula through a family friendly Rush Hour blender. I can't recall a movie where a character played by Ice Cube behaved so politely as the tough but far from foul mouthed cop he essays here. Likewise Kevin Hart, whose character would have turned the air blue if this were made 30 years ago and Eddie Murphy or Richard Pryor were headlining. The eighties predecessors of this film were tough, all-out action movies aimed at an adult audience but Hollywood is too scared to make those sort of films in the recession world of today. Looking at Ride Along's box-office results, maybe they have a point. 
I'm not saying a buddy cop movie has to rely on foul language and hard hitting violence. With a great script and top notch performances, this template can survive in the PG-13 world. Ride Along, however, has neither of these required elements and badly needs an extra bit of edginess to paper over its cracks. But the movie has taken a ton of money and its sequel has already been greenlit so what do I know?
2/10


Eric Hillis

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