Ride Along had the potential to be a good action-comedy and despite good on-screen chemistry between its two leads, it gets bogged down with a clichéd screenplay and ho-hum direction.
Genre(s): Comedy, Action
Universal | PG13 – 100 min. – $34.98 | April 15, 2014
THE MOVIE – 2.25/5
There’s no tried and true method of comedy than the buddy-cop subgenre as they tend to do very well at the box office so when you put together a tough guy in Ice Cube and a stand-up comedian on a hot-streak and Ride Along managed to be one of the early surprise hits of 2014. That being said, the movie itself is weak where all the funny jokes are contained in the trailers and the filler inside is full of clichés.
Detective James Payton (ICE CUBE) is a tough-as-nails Atlanta street detective on the trail of a shadowy crime lord known only as Omar who has his hands in every illegal activity yet those he deals with never have met him. When the movie opens, in a sequence seemingly derived with more flair, by Beverly Hills Cop in which Payton is undercover but his cover is blown and a shootout with himself, along with fellow detectives Santiago (JOHN LEGUIZAMO) and Miggs (BRYAN CALLEN), and a few nameless goons who we never hear from again. After the mass chaos, and more than a few insurance claims by innocent drivers, Payton gets chewed out by his overbearing yet understanding lieutenant (BRUCE MCGILL).
Meanwhile we also meet gamer and high school security guard Ben Barber (KEVIN HART) who is dating Payton’s gorgeous sister, Angela (TIKA SUMPTER), and who is also has been accepted into the Atlanta police academy, much to James’ chagrin as he has nothing but contempt after a grilling accident. His displeasure of Ben only grows when Ben asks for James’ blessing to marry Angela. So, James gives Ben the opportunity to prove himself, and also give a glowing recommendation entering the academy, by spending a day in a ride along (ding ding!), out on the streets as James puts him through the ringer in the hopes of not only dissuading him from entering the academy but also dumping his sister.
So as the ride along progresses, it’s easily apparent Ben is not up to snuff though he sticks with it and even stumbles upon a clue or two about a major weapons buy involving Omar’s crew leading to a predictable yet fun warehouse scene where Ben is put to the test.
Ride Along is a film that in spite of the chemistry between Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, can’t get out of the rut of the buddy comedy clichés and predictability in the plot right down to a couple of twists and the actor playing Omar (hint, he’s listed in the opening credits). But even so, it’s briskly paced and Hart’s energy helps carry through to the humdrum finale. This film epitomizes adequate entertainment: it’s neither that good to praise nor bad enough to loath and rail on.
The supporting players fill out their roles well enough from John Leguizamo’s skills as a partner to James’ hunt for Omar to the lovely and relatively unknown Tika Sumpter (“The Haves and the Have Nots”, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas) as the sister who holds her own and is believable enough that she might go for someone like Ben, albeit she’s a good gamer so there is a stretch of believable even for a movie like this… Oh, and as mentioned before, Bruce McGill is serviceable as the angry and touch boss that ultimately has a bark worse than a bite unable to reign in James and doesn’t seem to mind, save for some displeasure, having a civilian around causing chaos in his city.
Helmed by Mr. Medocrity himself, Tim Story (a man who could make the Fantastic Four less than fantastic twice over), Ride Along is what I would call filler material. No, it’s not that bad and perhaps in better hands, with a better script (no less than four writers worked on this), it might’ve made for passable entertainment considering that Ice Cube and Kevin Hart share some fun on-screen chemistry.
This is one ride-along you can turn down.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
This release comes with a matted, title embossed, slip cover. Inside contains the retail DVD Copy and a Digital Copy code for either download or streaming.
Feature Commentary – Director Tim Story sits and breaks down the film providing behind-the-scenes anecdotes and how certain shots were approached amongst other topics. It’s not the best track but for a solo track, it’s not that bad.
Alternate Ending (1:42; HD) – This is just an extra scene where Hart’s character has graduated from the police academy. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Deleted Scenes (8:23; HD) include six scenes that were cut down or sliced completely. There’s nothing here of particular interest and only serve to extend the movie without adding anything substantive… or funny. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Alternate Take (1:38; HD) – This is a driving scene between Ice Cube and Hart toward the end with the director giving advice off-screen to keep the PG-13 rating. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Gag Reel (2:59; HD) contains the usual line flubs and on-set hijinks. Sadly this has more laughs in it than the movie itself. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
It Was a Good Day: On the Set of Ride Along (11:52; HD) is a simple behind-the-scenes featurette with cast and crew interviews as they complement one another.
Kev & Cube’s Wild Ride (5:16; HD) – This short BTS featurette examines the on-screen buddy chemistry between Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
You Gonna Learn Today (4:39; HD) provides some more behind-the-scenes material centered on Kevin Hart and his adlibbing abilities. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Anatomy of the Big Blast (4:50; HD) breaks down the huge explosion featured in the movie and how it was all accomplished. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
An Explosive Ride (5:08; HD) examines the film’s stunt work. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Atlanta: The Character (3:19; HD) looks at what the big city brought to the film.
VIDEO – 5.0/5
Ride Along cruises onto Blu-ray show in 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and presented in 1080p high-definition transfer. The detail levels are sharp, colors are nicely balanced and the darker elements not only don’t show any flaws (pixilation, artifacts) but are also stark with good balance with different layers of grays and blacks. It’s a well done transfer as one would expect from a major studio for a new movie.
AUDIO – 4.75/5
The included 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is quite strong from the insane, and inane, opening credit/chase sequence and throughout, the movie utilizes a variety of hip-hop songs which provide a nice little thump. Outside of the soundtrack and score, the action elements also are rather robust including a massive building explosion to the quieter moments with crisp and clear dialogue levels.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, Ride Along had the potential to be a good action-comedy and despite good on-screen chemistry between its two leads, it gets bogged down with a clichéd screenplay and ho-hum direction. The Blu-ray released by Universal does offer up a good selection of bonus material and the video/audio transfers are top notch.