Ride Along – Review
It’d be easy to think of buddy comedies as the most commonly produced genre of films, yet when you sit and think about it, they’re actually few and far between nowadays. After last year’s rather low-calibre Bullet To The Head, and the superbly funny girl-cop comedy The Heat, there’s not really been much else save the abysmally lifeless R.I.P.D.. But fear no more: the genre lives. And it’s latest incarnation comes in the form of Ride Along.
Relatively unknown on this side of the Atlantic, US comedian Kevin Hart plays a high school security guard who, asking his cop brother-in-law for his marital blessing, finds himself put through 24 hours on the streets of Atlanta and dragged kicking and screaming into the renegade detective’s latest investigation.
An above average but by-the-numbers affair, Ride Along is best described as a 15 rated action comedy that’s been expertly trimmed to fit a 12A certification instead. Certainly it’s hard to tell exactly how it’s been rated as low as has, but that rating at no point seems to hold proceedings back from winding up as adultly unhinged as they do. The requisite language and violence are both there, yet strangely the film seems earnest enough in its intentions to come across as rather family-friendly.
Kevin Hart’s usual shtick fares rather well in his transition to banner-name star, never quite reaching the point of being annoying, yet playing the whining and childish parts with just right level of likeability. Despite not being credited as writer, Hart’s influence is clearly and very positively felt throughout, even though – as critics often comment – Hart’s obsession with his own height seems to get a lot of time in the spotlight. Ice Cube meanwhile plays the same stoic caricature that he’s always played, here given the perfect level of material to keep the character interesting and engaging behind the sunglass covered stare. They’re an onscreen pair that work well off of one another, and while the story handles the pair’s relationship in a way that may not be entirely realistic, it does at least work plausibly in the confines of the film itself.
Tim Story meanwhile seems to have found his perfect directorial niche sandwiched in-between the action and comedy, lacking the flat visual style of Think Like A Man, but also avoiding the cartoonish excess of his work on the Fantastic Four movies. Unusually well-shot for a buddy comedy, Story’s work on Ride Along could very easily have melted into the sort of frenetic slugfest seen in Peter Berg movies, yet his timing of restraint and style does the film a great service; and while it may never reach the dizzying laugh-a-minute heights of The Heat, Ride Along is engaging and funny enough to call it a solid launch for a potential Kevin Hart franchise.
Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.
Ice Cube, Kevin Hart