The buddy cop genre is one that has been explored so many times in cinema, that it’s simply not worth delving into unless something innovative and original is to come out of it. Ride Along, sadly, is completely archetypal of this particular style of film, however it manages not to be too detrimental to the finished product, as it plays on the notion of the genre, resulting in a film that’s very funny to say the least. Which, when dealing with a comedy, is a job rather well done.
Kevin Hart plays Ben Barber, who is determined to propose to his long-term partner Angela (Tika Sumpter), yet knows that beforehand he needs to seek the approval of her older brother, and tough cop, James Payton (Ice Cube). Given Ben wants to become a law enforcer himself, James takes him on a ‘ride along’ to patrol the streets and deal with whatever crimes come their way. Ben knows that if he can prove his worth as a policeman, he can prove his worth as a husband – though he has quite a task on his hands when they inadvertently get caught up in one of the biggest criminal investigations in the state, throwing this odd pair into a somewhat unique situation.
Director Tim Story ensures that there’s a tongue-in-cheek approach taken in a film that never takes itself seriously, and benefits as a result. The jokes are unrelenting, and the delivery exceptional. That’s not to say they’re funny, mind you, as at times the conventionality of the piece is irritating, as very little risk appears to have been taken. Nonetheless, Hart works well as an entry point into this world, as he reacts so naively to treacherous situations much like we would, therefore representing the viewer in this regard. Ice Cube steals the show, however, showing off his aptitude for comedy with such a distinctively droll, deadpan wit to his demeanour that lends itself to the story perfectly.
That being said, this film is incredibly flawed to say the least, and brings nothing new along for the ride. However sometimes such easy to indulge in comedies are just what the doctor ordered, and that seems to be a sentiment backed up by the American public, as this film sat at the top of the box office for three consecutive weeks, even amidst the awards season. It was so popular in fact, that they’ve already got a sequel in the pipeline.