Review: Ride Along (2014)

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Director: Tim Story
Screenwriters: Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi
Cast: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Laurence Fishburne, Tika Sumpter, Bruce McGill, Bryan Callen & John Leguizamo
Runtime: 99 min // Certificate: 12a

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5klp6rkHIks]

I’m not sure what it is about Kevin Hart that I find so intolerable. Maybe it’s the high-pitched squawking which emanates from his smug fucking mouth whenever he’s required to say something “funny”. Maybe it’s the fact that he uses said squawking to hide the fact that he couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag, or perhaps it’s just his inability to shut the fuck up for more than five seconds. Actually, you know what, I think it might be the fact that he seems to be on a one-man crusade to ensure that “comedic” racial stereotypes remain in fashion. Yeah, it might be some of those things.

Ok, so maybe I am sure what it is I hate about him… nonetheless, the man keeps getting work and I have no cunting idea why. His latest “effort”, Ride Along, is like a mix tape of all of Hart’s worst qualities in one handy film. Based on the idea that the RomCrimCom genre (aka the “romantic criminal comedy” genre, “criminal” being the operative word) was ever anything but a dreadful idea, it tells the tale of a wannabe cop, Ben (Hart), who goes on a “ride along” with James (Ice Cube), who just so happens to be the brother of his girlfriend, Angela (Sumpter). James hates Ben for reasons, so he does all he can to make the ride along as awkward as possible, though things soon take a turn for the worse when the two end up on the run from a criminal mastermind known only as “Omar”.

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It is – as I’m sure you can imagine – painful and predictable stuff, with few laughs or thrills to be found within, which isn’t great for a film which proclaims itself to be an “action comedy”… In its defence, it’s almost passable whenever Hart isn’t on the screen but those moments are so few and far between that a good 90% of the debacle is an insufferable chore. The performances are lifeless, not just as a result of the casting but also because of the material, which gives that renowned thespian “Ice Cube” little to work with. The characters are caricatures of what the four writers (four people wrote this; if ever there was an example of a film being written purely to make money, it’s this one) think actual humans talk like. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that Coolidge, Mantzoukas, Hay and Manfredi are indulging in ignorant, surreptitious racism via their characters but I’ll give them the benefit of doubt in that respect.

Where I can’t give them the “benefit of doubt”, however, is in the film’s outright offensive approach to… well, to everything else. The jokes are generic, crude and mostly unfunny. Transphobia, ableism and sexism are resorted to without a single hint of satire or irony, while the action sequences are immensely irritating. There are a couple of moments that are enjoyable, though only by virtue of the fact they involve guns and fighting, but for the most part they’re just awful. Slo-mo is used liberally to hide the atrocious choreography, while the film’s editor wants taking outside and shooting for doing such a slapdash, shoddy job. Like, seriously, watching Ride Along really made me appreciate decent filmmaking because there’s a total absence of it here.

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Now, before I finish this suitably scathing review, allow me – if you will – to take a brief moment to reach out to Laurence Fishburne, who makes a shockingly misjudged cameo appearance in this film’s final act… Laurence, mate… what are you doing? Like, are you okay? Do you need money man? Is that what this is all about? Is that what you need? Are you struggling with something? It’s alright dude, you can tell us. We mightn’t be able to help you all that much, but believe me when I tell you this… we want to help. I mean, none of us wants to see you resorting to shit like this man because it’s just so fucking beneath you! Come on mate, let’s sit down, have a little chat and get this sorted… then we can forget it ever happened and just move on =)

Ahem, anyway… so yeah, to conclude, if you like comedy then you’ll hate Ride Along. It’s not a complete disaster but it’s about as close to one as you can get without Kevin Hart actually being in the same room as you… which, let’s face it, is a punishment on par with death by hanging, drawing and quartering.

Intolerable stuff; avoid.

½

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