'Ride Along': It's got a lotta Hart

Posted: January 17, 2014

THE cop/buddy/action movie essentially funded the movie industry in Reagan/Clinton-era America, before the genre toe-tagged around the time of "Lethal Weapon 4."

The tag read "do not resuscitate," but attempts continue. In "Ride Along," director Tim Story puts the corpse on the table and shocks it with a couple of paddles named Ice Cube and Kevin Hart.

It's Hart who provides the amps, pouring energy and ideas into an obviously hyper-improvised role as Ben, a timid security guard who spends a day with a hardboiled Atlanta detective (Cube) eager to see him fail - Ben wants to date and possibly marry the protective detective's sister (Tika Sumpter).

There are bits and pieces of "Lethal Weapon," "Rush Hour" and "48 Hours," but the movie's antecedents go back even further - Hart's ability to draw laughs from his false bravado harken back to Bob Hope.

Hope had about 20 writers, though, and you can see "Ride Along" is at best a rough outline, with great leeway for Hart and company (John Leguizamo, Bryan Callen) to fill in the blanks.

Somtimes it all comes together, as when Hart's girlfriend interrupts his online combat game, and we see his tough guy avatar (Ben chooses the name Black Hammer) eviscerated by terrorists.

There are half a dozen good laughs in "Ride Along," but the movie could have used a few more, and a plot. There is a transparent double-cross, and most of the supporting roles are one-dimensional - Bruce McGill, for instance, as the bellowing chief of detectives.

It's the kind of role Ice Cube spoofed so well in the truly inventive cop/buddy riff "21 Jump Street," which graduates to "22 Jump Street later this year."

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