Monday, January 20, 2014

Ride Along review

Kevin Hart has seen a meteoric rise to the top of the comedy world. While Hart has mainly been seen as a supporting player, he's beginning to get more and more starring roles in Hollywood. Kevin Hart's first real Hollywood vehicle, Ride Along, premiered this weekend. With $48.1 million already in the bank, Kevin Hart's first bona fide success has come with this movie. The marketing put Hart at the forefront and did a great job selling this movie. Word of mouth has been great from audiences (they gave it an "A" Cinemascore), but critics have lambasted the film. Going into this film, I was curious as to which side I would fall on. I loved the trailers, but it's still a comedy released in January. After seeing the film, I can assure you that Ride Along isn't terrible, but it certainly is not a good movie

Ride Along tells the story of Ben Barber (Kevin Hart). He's stuck in his job as a school security officer and is desperately hoping to get into the police academy. One of the few shining lights in Barber's world is his girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter). They love each other and want to get married, but first, Ben must get the blessing of Angela's brother, James (Ice Cube) Payton. James despises Ben because of some vaguely referenced incident and doesn't want him to marry Angela. However, James decides that he has to give him a shot. He offers to take Ben on a ride along and says that if Ben impresses him, he can marry Angela. And then, relentless buddy cop cliches and laughs ensue.

Ride Along looked very promising from the trailers. It had a lot of funny gags and focused on Hart, who I think is very funny. However, I was worried when reviews started pouring in. I wasn't sure if the film would be any good and it turned out to be pretty mediocre. The first two-thirds of Ride Along are disastrous and just flat-out boring. Hart's comedic talents are wasted and I was left wondering if anyone had written any jokes for Hart that were not in the trailer. Ice Cube was so mediocre and it just seemed like nobody cared. Then the last third of the movie was actually pretty entertaining. I thought that there were a few good scenes and some nice action pieces. But still, it's not enough for me to recommend this film. It's a pretty mediocre comedy that is filled with cliches and actually isn't all that funny.

Ride Along's first problem is the plot. It's absolutely awful. The script is so poorly written and deals with cliches that are so obvious and predictable. When Ride Along focuses on the relationship between Ben and James, it's awful. It's so stupid and just moves from one predictable, cliched scene to the next. When it focuses on Ben's pursuit of "Omar", this mysterious crime lord, it's a little funnier, but still poorly written. The double-cross by two characters, the appearance of one mysterious character, the kidnapping of another: this film is so stupidly predictable, it's not even funny. The writers do nothing new here.

Ride Along would probably be a better movie if it was actually consistently funny. It's not. Ride Along is sporadically funny. While watching this movie, I realized at one point that I hadn't laughed during the last fifteen minutes of the movie. That's a bad sign. For the first two-thirds of this movie, the only funny things are the jokes that were in the trailer. The last third has some funnier bits, but they still aren't any funnier than a network TV sitcom.

 I've already mentioned that I felt like Hart was wasted here. His talents could be used in much funnier and more innovative films, and I was disappointed that Ride Along did nothing to use him better. But Hart shouldn't feel bad, because this movie really didn't do anything with any of the cast members. Ice Cube's character is thinly written and boring. Tika Sumpter is useless. And John Leguizamo and Bryan Callen add nothing to the film. Heck, most of the supporting characters add nothing but another pile of cliches to the film.

Ride Along also has an ending problem. It should end in one spot. Heck, I was almost certain that the characters who keep the movie going had been killed already. But they weren't, and the movie keeps going. And the most ridiculous part is that none of it makes sense. One of the characters gets shot and has to go to the hospital. But when he has to save the day, everybody forgets about the injury. What? In addition, Ben impersonates a crime lord in one scene and two of the criminals in the room have seen Ben before and know that he isn't a crime lord. When I look back on movie to review them, it's things like these that bring down the film's grade.

However, there were a few redeeming qualities to Ride Along that I enjoyed. Hart does have some funny gags, but for most of the movie, they're few and far between. He does have one genuinely great scene towards the end, but it goes on for way too long. The final act isn't terrible and I was into the movie. But if you look back on it, the final act makes little sense and goes on for too long. So, while there were a few good things about Ride Along, they don't really help save the movie that much.

This is one of those movies where my opinion of it changes is I write the review. Looking back on it now, I can safely say that Ride Along is a pretty disappointing comedy. It's so insanely predictable and cliched and doesn't even try to use the talent that it has. Hart is funny and the last act is genuinely enjoyable, but it's still too little too late. I think that if you want a really good buddy cop comedy, you should stay home and watch Hot Fuzz. Don't bother with Ride Along, because I'm pretty sure that you've already seen it in one way or another.

THE FINAL GRADE:  D+                                            (4.8/10)

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