Though it's claiming to be a comedy, the Ice Cube/Kevin Hart team-up Ride Along isn't actually funny. At all. Or, at least, not intentionally. The only laughs to be had from this umpteenth variation on the odd couple buddy cop formula -- which partners Cube's veteran Atlanta detective with Hart's aspiring officer, who happens to be dating the older guy's sister -- lie in areas that are incidental to what's actually happening onscreen. That's because what's happening onscreen is pretty dire: the standard-issue tale of two guys that hate each other, but grudgingly become pals through a series of unlikely situations and lots of property damage that's directed with a distinct lack of panache by director Tim Story (who has made some legitimately funny movies in the past, including Barbershop) and lazily phoned in by the entire cast, which also includes John Leguizamo as one of Cube's cop buddies and Laurence Fishburne as the crime boss they get around to fighting in the third act. Look, sometimes you've gotta entertain yourself when the movie you're watching refuses to do so. With that in mind, here are the five funniest things about Ride Along.
Ice Cube's "F--k You, Pay Me" Face
Here's a project someone should file away from a rainy day: revisit the entirety of Ice Cube's filmography, from Boyz n the Hood to Ride Along and pinpoint the exact year, movie, scene and frame where he stopped giving a shit. (My offhand guess would be Are We Done Yet?, but it could have happened even earlier.) Whenever it was, we're reaping the rewards of it now. His lack of interest in expending the slightest bit of effort for the duration of Ride Along's 100 minutes is truly impressive, as is the abject disdain with which he regards his co-star -- disdain that's so palpable, it really doesn't feel like acting. Just to show how much he doesn't care, the one-time gangsta rapper willingly co-opts his most famous lyric ("Today was a good day") for an easy punchline, delivered with a rare smile that says, "Can you believe I'm getting paid for this?" Slackers of the world have a new God to worship.
Kevin Hart's (and Everyone Else's) Obsession with His Penis
Hart may be short, but he wants you to know he has a giant dick. And if you don't get that the first time, he'll repeat it again. And again. And one more time for emphasis. Also, other people will comment on the size of his schlong just to make sure even the folks in the rafters know that he's the kind of John Holmes motherf*&cker that Mr. Brown said "Like a Virgin" was about. The dick jokes themselves (which mostly revolve around the fact that Hart's video-game obsessed character has a gaming identity named for his huge package) are thuddingly obvious, but it is pretty hysterical how often the movie feels the need to point it out. It's as if Hart is putting it out there that if this comedy thing fails, he's up for career in porn.
Jay Pharoah Playing Straight
Not since Casey Wilson randomly turned up in The Guilt Trip as an ordinary office secretary who you kept thinking is going to do or say something hilarious and then didn't, has there been such an weirdly non-funny cameo by a funny person as Jay Pharoah's ultra-brief appearance in Ride Along. The current Saturday Night Live cast member has a walk-on role as Runflat, an ex-con who may have some information about the gunrunning case that Cube is supposedly trying to solve in between terrorizing his sister's boyfriend. As it plays in the finished movie, his scene is so oddly edited (and noticeably truncated) that one wonders if Pharoah was actually doing shtick on set and Story just decided to cut it out, perhaps so that Hart wouldn’t be upstaged. Pharoah's imaginary performance is funnier than anyone else's actual performance in the movie.
Hart & Story vs. the Redneck Bar Scene from 48 Hrs.
Every few years, a comic lands a potential breakout role in one of these action comedies, leading people to label him/her as the next Eddie Murphy, who achieved superstardom thanks to Walter Hill's 1982 genre classic 48 Hrs. and specifically the famous set-piece where he single-handedly confronts a bar filled with racist rednecks. (I'm guilty of one of those jumping-the-gun pronouncements myself, suggesting that Aziz Ansari might be the next Eddie Murphy in my review of 30 Minutes or Less from a few years back.) With Ride Along, Story and Hart consciously invoke the spirit of Murphy with an extended sequence in a strip club, where Hart's cop pretends to be in control of a hostage situation by acting like a maniac while everyone stares at him dumbfounded. The scene is resoundingly unfunny, but it's hard not to chuckle at the hubris behind it.
The Lack of Gun Safety
Granted, in light of recent events the casual disregard for safe handling of firearms seen throughout Ride Along is really more scary than funny. Hart's character in particular emerges as an ideal advertisement for stricter gun control laws, as he repeatedly misfires and demonstrates exceptionally poor aim, almost killing others and/or himself on numerous occasions. But even the supposed professionals appear to have no idea how to use these lethal weapons, making one wonder if the Atlanta PD might be more effective if they replaced cops' guns with batons like they do in England.
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