Buddy duddy: Ice Cube and Kevin Hart are taken for a Ride Along

by Mark Burger

January has long been considered a dumping ground for movies, and Ride Along certainly fits that dubious bill. It’s trite, clichéd and dull — and how it required the combined abilities of four screenwriters is impossible to fathom.

Ice Cube scowls and growls as hardnosed Atlanta detective James Payton.

Kevin Hart plays motor-mouthed police wannabe Ben Barber, who happens to be living with James’ sister Angela (Tika Sumpter). Ben wants to learn the ropes of police work, so James begrudgingly agrees to take him on a “ride along” (aha — that’s where the title comes from!).

Adversaries at the outset but friends (more or less) by the fade-out, James and Ben manage to overcome their differences and crack a big case that James has been working on for years in his relentless pursuit of the city’s mysterious Mr. Big, a crime czar named Omar. Needless to say, Angela will become a pawn in the proceedings, inevitably taken hostage for the climax.

There’s much shouting and shooting, the requisite car chases, corrupt cops, the bellicose captain (reliable Bruce McGill, who’s played similar roles before), and the inevitable appearance of Omar, who arrives in the form of Laurence Fishburne (dignity intact), who must’ve had bills to pay. The film’s action scenes are as routine and listless as the story and dialogue.

Director Tim Story, who previously worked with Ice Cube in Barbershop (2002) and with Hart in Think Like a Man (2012), simply goes through the motions here, and it unfortunately proves contagious. Somebody’s getting taken for a ride here, alright — the audience.

The quicker Ride Along is forgotten — and it’s plenty forgettable — the better. This is high-concept filmmaking at its lowest, lamest common denominator.