You know, there aren’t many active comedy teams in the movies any more, though we could all probably name several from times past. That’s why “Ride Along,” which no one would mistake for an Oscar nominee, is still an enjoyable little mindless cop-o-dramedy.
James Payton (Ice Cube) is an Atlanta police detective with a tough-guy attitude who has a tendency to be a Lone Ranger out on the streets. There’s one particular hoodlum he’s trying to hunt down, Omar (Laurence Fishburne), whom he suspects of being a gang kingpin connected to lots of other petty crime in the area. Payton has directed and coordinated the efforts of his two associates in running down all leads, but so far, no luck. And Payton’s boss is beginning to tire of all the departmental time and energy wasted on this unproductive wild goose chase. But Payton seems determined to “score” on this criminal.
Meanwhile, he’s trying to discourage diminutive Ben (Kevin Hart), whom he thinks is trying to “score” with his sister, Angela (Tika Sumpter). Ben is a security-guard-wanna-be cop who’s just been accepted into the Police Academy, but James, trying to give Ben a hard time, invites him on a “ride along” where he asks the dispatcher to give him all the annoying calls, some of which are setups designed to make any rookie look bad. The ruse almost works. Ben does indeed get discouraged, but, not completely clueless, he catches wind of the subterfuge, and plays along enough to bluster his way through the next scenario, which is the real thing, except he doesn’t realize it.
OK, that sounds more serious than this really is. But at least there’s a semblance of a plot to wrap around all the humor and satire. Though there’s a little bit of racy dialogue (and one obligatory “f-bomb”), older children would probably enjoy the frantic antics of Kevin Hart, whose all-out style contrasts well with Ice Cube’s, well, coolness.
Are they an unlikely duo? Of course, that’s why they’re appealing as a mismatched pair. For those who are looking to go to the movies for some lighthearted fare, with the occasional smattering of action sequence just for variety, this “popcorn movie” is worth considering.
RONALD P. SALFEN is the minister at St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Irving, Texas.