Movie review: “Ride Along” cruises on buddy-cop clichés

By Columbus Alive
From the January 16, 2014 edition

His stand-up is solid, but in movies, I’ve always kind of thought of Kevin Hart as a poor man’s Chris Tucker. And sharing the screen with Tucker’s “Friday” co-star Ice Cube in “Ride Along,” it was hard not to make that comparison.

How much you enjoy it will depend heavily on how much you enjoy Hart’s manic energy and self-deprecating jokes, along with your tolerance for buddy cop clichés.

Hart plays Ben Barber, a video-game-playing high school security guard who is inexplicably dating a beautiful woman (Tika Sumpter) and living in a gorgeous Atlanta apartment — seriously, how do people afford these places in movies?

Ben wants to pop the question to his girlfriend, but he realizes he needs to show some ambition in life before making the leap, so he’s applied to police academy. He also must win over her skeptical brother James (Ice Cube), himself a hard-nosed police detective.

James agrees to give Ben a taste of police life for a day. Hilarity ensues.

Director Kevin Hart has worked with both his stars before — Hart on “Think Like a Man” and Ice Cube on “Barbershop” — so there’s some chemistry working here.

But the gag setup is about as advanced as your average Adam Sandler movie (again, if that’s your thing, enjoy). And it’s paired with every corny action cliché you can think of — and a little too much violence played for laughs for my taste.

I enjoy Hart’s stand-up more than his acting, but he can be funny in small doses onscreen. “Ride Along” is a heaping helping of Hart.

As for Ice Cube, it’s kind of hard even remembering the days when he was “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted” after all the family films he’s done. He tries to play back into that with mixed results, just like the rest of the movie.

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures