There are no surprises in Ride Along. It’s a workmanlike product straight off the buddy-cop/action-comedy assembly line. The plot’s arc and denouement are predictable to anyone who’s stepped into a cinema more than a few times. Ice Cube and Kevin Hart ably settle into the familiar roles of the no-nonsense, strait-laced, tough-as-nails police officer and his fun-loving partner. None of that is a problem, really.
The issue is whether there are enough laughs throughout to make the mindless script (which might have been written by a computer programmed to auto-generate a screenplay out of discarded bits of previous films of the genre) beside the point.
Hart nearly pulls it off. Much of the movie is a series of thinly veiled setups to allow the comic to launch into standup-style monologues, and he’s got enough charisma (even if he’s recycling Chris Tucker’s old moves) to make most these attempts entertaining distractions. I laughed loudly at several of his antics.
Unfortunately, the story and the constantly glowering Ice Cube demand too much screen-time. A film like this should forget any pretension that the audience might care whether Hart’s bumbling high-school security guard can win the approval of his future brother-in-law (Cube) by riding along with him for a day as he investigates a criminal mastermind and stop fooling itself that we’re anxious about whether they’ll nab the bad guys.
Instead it should embrace an Anchorman or Farrelly brothers level of absurdity, playing only for laughs. No one’s seeing Ride Along for the bromance.