Buddy cop flicks are such a tired concept. By this point, they're so formulaic that I could probably write one in my sleep, and I offer no claim to any ounce of creativity. Ride Along is one of those films, and it was actually a huge financial success when it was released in theaters last January. So maybe I was expecting a bit more from this one; perhaps there was something about this movie that audiences thought elevated it above the mold....
I give the average audience too much credit.
Ice Cube plays a tough-as-nails cop, and Kevin Hart plays the goof-off moron who is dating Ice Cube's sister and wants to enter the police academy. (I didn't even bother to remember the characters' names. Would you?) Hart wants to prove to Ice Cube that he's worthy of the girlfriend's affections and of being a cop; Ice Cube wants to scare the excitable idiot away from entering the force. So Ice Cube lets Hart ride along for a day on the job. Wacky shenanigans ensue that eventually lead to the two working together to take down a crime boss. Like I said, I could write one of these in my sleep.
What has to carry a film like this is the interplay between the two leads, and to the film's credit, Hart and Ice Cube do have some decent chemistry. Ice Cube is a cool straight man to Hart's antics, and, quite frankly, he reacts as any reasonable person would to the little dweeb. Here's the main problem though: KEVIN HART ISN'T FUNNY! He's spastic, shrill, and the antithesis to what our culture considers tough and masculine, but continually mocking those traits is not funny. Hart is to this movie what Chris Tucker was to the Rush Hour movies. Sure, sometimes he can pull off a bit of physical comedy, even if it is contrived, but whenever he opens his mouth I want to take Ice Cube's gun and shoot the little shit. Ice Cube embodies my despise for Hart throughout most of the movie, but it's painful to watch the inevitable turnaround in his disposition toward such an annoying character.
I might even be able to forgive the film if Hart's character had actually had any sort of arc. He continually screws up and reacts in ways that make me wonder exactly how long it would take for the police academy to boot his ass. Furthermore, the situations that Ice Cube puts Hart in become escalatingly more implausible so that I can feel my brain cells committing suicide as I watch. Add the fact that some scenes are only held together with a glue of incredibly convenient dialogue, and this is a film that relies on its audience's mindless attention.
And that's exactly what this film is: mindless. I saw potential in the first few scenes that provided some fun and over-the-top action. However, that quickly gave way to stupid jokes that only seek to further an stupider plot. If you're easily entertained by spastic flailings of loud, shrill man, this might be the film for you. I, however, have a degree of pretentious credibility to maintain. Here's hoping the already-announced sequel isn't just a rehash of this rehash of an all-too-rehashed genre.
Have a favorite buddy cop movie that transcends the genre, or perhaps defined it? Let me know in the comments below!