Is It Cool?: Excellence in Filmmaking
Ride Along stars funny man Kevin Hart as Ben, the supposed-to-be loveable underdog who must impress his girlfriend’s big brother (Ice Cube) and gain his approval before proposing. Ben is a campus security guard at a local high school with aspirations of going to the police academy while James (Cube) is a hardened police detective. James invites Ben to ride along with him for a single day on the job to see if he has what it takes to prove himself worthy of marrying Angela, his beloved little sister. Of course, James sets out to make certain that Ben has such a horrible time on the ride along that he runs screaming not only from his dreams of becoming an Atlanta Police Officer but also from marrying Angela.
Truthfully, I’m baffled as to how a film with five (FIVE!) writers could have such a non-story. Director Tom Story (Fantastic Four, Think Like a Man) was admittedly not given much to work with in the way of a screenplay, but even the few opportunities he did have to do something memorable were completely squandered. To call the movie mediocre seems almost charitable.
Despite being set in Atlanta, a vibrant and beautiful city, the designing and cinematography were almost painfully generic. There were a few helicopter shots of the city that looked like they had come from someone’s stock footage. Here and there, it seemed that the camera team and director tried to have a little fun by playing up the difference in height between Hart and Cube by shooting down at Hart or up at Cube, but even that small bit of whimsy was inconsistent and ineffective. It felt throughout the entire movie like the creative team had basically checked off boxes on a list called “How to Make an Action Movie.”
The point of this story is supposed to be that Ben proves himself worthy to marry Angela, but honestly, I couldn’t muster up the slightest inkling of care either way. The few times we even see Angela she is perfectly polished without a hair out of place and is either at home in her super expensive and gorgeous house (sure would like to know what she does for a living, because they aren’t living there on Ben’s salary) or out with shopping bags in her hands. Her interactions with Ben are awkward, hyper sexual in a very juvenile way, and carry zero depth of feeling. In fact, lack of depth or real emotion of any kind is a constant theme in this movie.
Much of the dialogue in this movie is so bad it borders on painful. More questions: why does the movie tell us absolutely nothing about our protagonist? After an hour and forty minutes, I can’t tell you much about Ben at all other than his girlfriend is very pretty and he wants to be a cop. These were just more things that the team must have found on that blasted “How to” list. I’m finding it difficult to write this review and not overuse the word “generic.” This story feels like it was written by some middle school dudes hanging out on a Friday night drinking beer they stole from their dads after a marathon day of playing Black Ops and Grand Theft Auto.
What’s it Saying?: Message of the Movie
There is no clear message in this movie. This is a story of crass, unrealistic characters going through the motions of an action flick. I suppose, if one were reaching, it could be said that in the end the good guys win, so we have ourselves a traditional good vs. evil moral here.
Given the framework of this movie, there could and should have been much more. I would like to be able to tell you that this is a story of bonding and brotherhood and that it tackles the question “What does it take to be a man” but sadly, it does none of that. Despite having those opportunities for depth handed to him on a platter, Tim Story doesn’t bite.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Morality in the Movie
Excessive foul language and tasteless sexual jokes abound in this movie. Some of the sexual humor was so off color I actually felt uncomfortable despite an admitted lack of nudity in the film. I would not feel comfortable taking anyone under age 18 to see this.
That's Right. I Said It: Reviewer Comments
I feel like my thoughts on the movie are pretty clearly expressed in the above categories, but in case you haven’t quite made up your mind whether to see it or not, here are some actual things I remember thinking during the hour and forty minutes I was stuck watching this movie.
Wow. Dodge must have paid a lot for this chase scene. We sure are staring at that logo a lot.
Wait… why are Serbians buying guns from someone in Atlanta? No… selling them. Buying them? Selling? Eh, who cares. None of this makes sense.
I feel like they shot this entire movie in Los Angeles over a long weekend.
Why are there guys randomly planning to shoot up a strip club? NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE.
Wait… are there seriously only three women in this movie with speaking roles? I think between them all, they had maybe twenty lines. Is that right? It feels right. There’s the girlfriend who is basically a two dimensional sexual object, the stereotypical southern redneck woman, a bearded biker chick, and oh yeah, the dispatcher with one line.
Did Laurence Fishburne lose a bet? Why is he in this movie?!
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? NONE. OF. THIS. MAKES. SENSE.