Well it’s January, which means two things. First, we’re going to get another found footage movie about demonic possession, i.e. “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.” Second, we’re going to get another mediocre movie starring Ice Cube. Just like “Next Friday,” “Torque,” “Are We There Yet?” and “First Sunday,” “Ride Along” is a film you’ll completely forget about after one viewing. It’s a shame Ice Cube keeps getting saddled with these thankless roles, as he can be an appealing screen presence. Hopefully he’ll be put to better use when “22 Jump Street” comes out.
Ice Cube is James Payton, a detective obsessed with his job and even more obsessed with the well-being of his little sister (Tika Sumpter). She’s engaged to Kevin Hart’s Ben, a bumbling wannabe cop who’s only a little less annoying than Chris Tucker. As a means to scare him away, James decides to take the overly eager Ben on a ride along. This leads to a lot of shenanigans involving running, yelling, falling, being mistaken for a child molester, and villains that get no funny lines.
“Ride Along” is a textbook example of a checklist movie. This is where the screenwriter simply goes through a checklist of clichés to lazily construct the most uninspired of stories. The obligatory opening car chase, check. At least two scenes where the police lieutenant grills a reckless police officer, check. Two cops that turn out to be on the bad guy’s payroll, check. A scene where the comic relief goes undercover as a master criminal only for the real master criminal to show up, check. A surprise cameo from Laurence Fishburne that actually isn’t very surprising since the opening credits spoil it, check. A scene where the tough cop finally opens up, check. A scene where the generic, bland girlfriend is taken hostage, check. The final shootout, check. Few laughs along the way, check.
Predictability aside, nobody goes to see buddy cop movies for the plot. It really comes down to how strong the leads are. Ice Cube and Kevin Hart have a decent chemistry. Unlike Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in “The Heat,” though, they aren’t enough to save the movie. It doesn’t help that Director Tim Story isn’t the best at balancing action and comedy. Of course we already knew that from his previous cinematic outings, “Taxi” and those “Fantastic Four” pictures.
“Ride Along” is all too unmemorable to go down as an awful movie. If you’re desperate to get out of the house, turn off your brain, and kill 100 minutes you’ll never get back, this should get the job done. For everyone else, you’d be better off staying home and getting caught up on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
• Nick Spake is a college student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for the past seven years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org