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Movie review: Ride Along
Ah the buddy cop flick. Hollywood took notice of this relatively new genre back in 1982 with the unlikely pairing of Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in the rather good 48 Hours. This spawned a huge number of copy cats, including the Lethal Weapon franchise, and although not so popular now (2004's White Chicks was an all time low for the genre), this Ice Cube and Kevin Hart vehicle is an attempt to breathe new life into the buddy cop film, which it does with mixed results.
Although currently working as a security guard in a school, Ben Barber (Hart) has higher aspirations. He wants to be a cop. It just so happens that James Payton (Cube) is a cop, but doesn't think much of Ben's chances of making it. He's slightly biased though as he's the brother of Ben's girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter), and he doesn't think much of him; he thinks he's too short to go out with his sis, and if that wasn't enough, he plays those evil video games.
When Ben gets confirmation that he's made it into the police academy, he can't help but inform James. Knowing that Ben doesn't have what it takes to be real cop, he decides to nip his pipe dream in the bud there and then, and decides to take him out for the day to show him what real police work is. What he doesn't tell Ben however, is that he's asked dispatch to forward all the 126 calls – the real crazies nobody wants to deal with – to teach Ben a lesson once and for all that being a cop isn't just about carry a badge and a gun. Now it's all down to Ben to unwittingly prove to James that he's got what it takes to not only be a cop but be good husband material for his sister too.
Although having roots deeply ingrained in the music business, being part of old school hip hop combo N.W.A back in the day, Ice Cube has been dallying with acting since his debut in John Singleton's 1991 debut Boyz n the Hood. Even though he's appeared in many a film since, you'd never expect him to be the type of actor to have his name above the title of the film. And he proves no different here.
Cube shows himself to be completely out of his depths in a lead role; he only has two expressions throughout – straight and grimace. In truth, the material doesn't ask anything more of him than that, but he does look a little like a competition winner at times in that he's just lucky to be there. He does enough though to play the straight guy to Hart's comic foil.
Although not a big name in these parts, Kevin Hart has a growing reputation as a stand up comic and actor in the States. It's clear here that he's the natural successor to the likes of Chris Tucker, as Ride Along is like a b-movie version of the Rush Hour franchise – but without Jackie Chan, or the humour.
It's always a concern when you see a number of names credited as writer on a project, and with four names attached on this one, it further cements that concern. The film is depressingly formulaic, and offers absolutely nothing in terms of originality. There are brief moments where Hart gets to shine with his shtick, but they are few and far between.
Luckily for the film- and its two stars and director – the film has done pretty good business at the US box office, which means all three get another stab at making the sequel work better than this. It's success however, could just be that audiences have a pandering for more buddy cop films, and have simply latched onto this one. In any case, expect a flood of further copy cats soon; there's even talk of a Rush Hour 4 - for better or worse. So if you're a fan of the genre, this one may briefly whet your appetite, but it might be worth waiting for something a little more substantial to come along.
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