Ride Along was 2014’s first hit film. A buddy comedy about a police academy hopeful that goes on a ride along with his girlfriend’s brother, a hardass cop. Sounds like a recipe for some fun comedy. Not so it turns out.
The whole premise feels anachronistic and, frankly, sexist. Kevin Hart, as Ben, has to earn his girlfriend’s brother’s (Ice Cube as James) acceptance before marrying her. Because as the only living male in her family he has ownership over her and her future. Because women can’t make their own decisions about their own relationships. It boils down to Ben not fitting into James’ ideal of being a man, including but not limited to not being tall (though, he’s only about half a foot at most taller himself), wearing tight clothing and being able to work a grill. Because any of those make you a worthless human being, obviously. He fails to recognize his own insecurities, much like Hart’s character does with endless references to his “Black Hammer.” In a way it’s kind of sad and pathetic. The girlfriend character, Angela, is barely a character and is in fact basically a MacGuffin, quite literally an object, a prize in the possession of James for Ben to win and for the threadbare plot to advance. She does nothing for the entire run time until she becomes a damsel in distress, further cementing her status as a possession in the hands of men.
Ice Cube has one note, and it’s not particularly fine tuned. He only ever plays Ice Cube and that’s what he does here. And it’s so boring. Kevin Hart is a stand up comedian, but there’s a problem with him. And it’s a big one for someone of his profession: He isn’t funny. Not even remotely. Here his comedic method consists of talking fast and loudly. He’s basically the new Martin Lawrence. At least as he appears in this film.
The script must consist of cookie cutter, surface level characterisation and scene setting descriptions accompanied with “.. and then they yell loudly, over one another until somebody gets hurt in some manner of physical pratfall and/or runs away.” It’s supposed to be about how these two different men learn that they can work together and have their own merits, but its so dull because both characters are intensely unlikable. Then there’s a whole overarching thing about gun smuggling and Serbians that’s not worth noting save for it being a waste of some good Laurence Fishburne, he’s the only one who deserves better.
It’s painfully unfunny and antiquatedly offensive. Here’s a limited list of the people that it’s “casually” offensive against: Women, little people, gamers and genderqueers. But most of all against people who enjoy comedy. On top of that it’s shot and composed in a completely bland manner. Sure, it’s functional and (barely) competently made but that doesn’t matter when it’s a comedy you can’t laugh at.
Ride Along is Tim Story’s directorial achievement: Making a film worse than Fantastic Four. Yet somehow it made $150 million on a $25 million budget. Unfunny, bereft of fun, trite, overlong and dull, apparently perfect for the lowest common denominator. It might’ve worked in the 80s, with a cast of actual charmers and an actually good director.
The One Joke: “Thank you Assface.” Yes, it’s a name. And yes, the laughter may have been a form of sleep delirium from the boredom.
The Terrible: Our two, worthless protagonists.
The Yelling: Endless, all the time. Ugh.