June 30, 2014 \ Blog \ 0 Comments
The modern cop-buddy picture has been around for a while. The genre really started with the release of 1982’s 48 HRS starring Nick Nolte and then film newcomer Eddie Murphy, as mismatched partners that must work together to solve a crime. The film spawned a dismal sequel and countless remakes. It seemed like box office gold; just get two popular stars and pair them together and watch the sparks fly. The typical plot of a buddy cop film is as follows: Introduction of the crime and and/or bad guy. Intro of the “lead character,” typically the “straight-laced one”; cut to a separate intro of the wilder “loose cannon” character. The two leads discover that have a mutual enemy in the bad guy and discover that they must work together. Usually both are resistant to the idea and think they can do the job alone. They bicker and they fight. Somehow and during the course of the film they discover a mutual respect for each other. They defeat the bad guy and by the time the credits roll they are not only friends, they are ready to return for a sequel. For further proof, take a look at the list of buddy cop films here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddy_cop_film I have basically described the plot of RIDE ALONG the latest in a long line of buddy cop films.
The late Roger Ebert came up with the term “wunza” as any film using a plot which can be summarized by saying "One's a...." This film follows the classic buddy cop formula almost to the letter with the only distinction in that one of two is not a cop. Ice Cube plays the cop and Kevin Hart plays a cop wanna be. The plot is as follows Kevin Hart is dating Ice Cube’s sister. Ice Cube does not like Kevin Hart. Kevin Hart wants Ice Cube’s approval. Ice Cube decides that in order for Kevin Hart to prove his worth, Ice Cube will take Kevin Hart on a ride along putting him in tough situations. Notice that I used the actors names rather than the characters names. That is because neither actor is stretching their acting chops but merely doing a variation of what they have done before. It is remarkable just how unremarkable this film is. There is nothing, I mean NOTHING, here that you haven’t seen before. The b-plot is so predictable I would not be surprised if was copied and pasted from another script. There are FOUR screenwriters credited to this film. Four screenwriters could not recognize that their film was riddled with clichés. The only original aspect of the script is that the two leads already know each other once the film begins but having that twist does not work either. Kevin Hart overacts here but the blame cannot all be placed on his shoulders. He is given nothing to do. He has one good scene and it was more than likely improvised. The scene could be seen as a nod to Eddie Murphy’s classic hillbilly bar scene in 48 HOURS but does not even come close to that star making scene. I lost count at how many times he screams, yells, falls down, and slammed into something.
This film is not very good to say the least but fans of Cube and Hart may find some level of entertainment. It is utterly forgettable and is better suited for the home video rather than the big screen. This is a prime example of inspiration ending at the casting because so little care was taken in the plot that it seems like a mere after thought. Consider this; Ice Cube is looking for a mysterious criminal by the name of Omar. I will not reveal the idenity of the actor that plays him but once you see the opening credits you will instantly know who it is. The only evidence that Omar exists is a picture of him when he was very young. Like 10 or 12 years old young and the picture looks like a publicity photo for the actor when he was that age. Now I am now seasoned investigator but would you attempt to do an age progression analysis of the photo to get an idea of what he looks like today rather than 40 years ago. Maybe he tried that but the film does not bother to tell us. A sequel is already in the works and is expected to start filming soon. I can only hope that they have a better script. I wanted to escape from this ride along.
Like most stand-ups Kevin Hart’s movie career has been spotty at best although he delivers one of the funniest lines in recent movie history in the 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN with “First of all, you throwin' too many big words at me, and because I don't understand them, I'm gonna take 'em as disrespect” That is funny stuff but his role is all too brief in the film and left audiences wanting more. As with most stand-ups give them a microphone and a captivated audience and they shoot to the moon. Kevin Hart is no different and he is back on the big screen doing what he does best; making audiences double over with laughter.
The film begins with an overlong segment which has Hart at a party being thrown in his honor and he is being hit with different false rumors and he decides on the spot to play the Madison Square Garden to “explain” his side of things. This then leads to yet another overlong segment which shows Hart performing at different venues across the globe. This segment could have been left out in fact the audience I saw it with seemed a little anxious for the show to get going. Once the show get does get going it does not disappoint. Filmed at Madison Square Garden during his LET ME EXPLAIN tour Hart unleashes his unique look at relationships, fame, kids, being single and horseback riding (yes horseback riding!). Once he hits the stage it is off and running and barely slows down to catch a breath. I do not know how the show actually played live but Hart’s energy level is amazing and he doesn't even break a sweat. I must admit I laughed more than I thought I would. My favorite bits are his buddy’s inability to remember a code they have to avoid saying the wrong thing in front of their women, he’s own signal to let his buddies know to assist him in certain situations and “bum bumps”. Hart apparently found the latter joke so funny he almost could not get it out. One of the things that I have admired about Hart’s humor is that it never seems mean spirited and although he purports everything he talks about to be a true story I doubt that most are but he tells them which such conviction and clarity they just might be.
Undoubtedly this film will be compared to other stand up films such as RICHARD PRYOR LIVE IN CONCERT, YOU SO CRAZY, EDDIE MURPHY RAW and THE ORIGINAL KINGS OF COMEDY and it probably an unfair comparison because they are all funny for different reasons. This is a very funny film and it does not overstay its welcome as the stand-up portion clocks in at about an hour and there is never a dull moment. If there is material on the cutting room floor I hope it appears on the eventual home video release. As it stands this is an excellent document of Hart’s stand up and I highly recommend it. Obviously leave the kiddos at home and enjoy a grown folks time at the movies. With all the craziness in the world we could all use a little good laughter.