The film opens with Atlanta Detective James Payton (Ice Cube) working undercover as a buyer for fake passports. When the bust goes the wrong way, James finds himself under the watchful eye of his Lieutenant. But, that's not the biggest headache for James, it's High School security guard Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) who's living with his sister Angela (Tika Sumpter).
Showing up at their apartment one day James pushes Ben to end the relationship. Ben's not giving in and offers to prove to James that he's worthy of being with Angela forever. Ben gets accepted into the Atlanta Police Academy and feels it's time to pop the question to Angela, but wants James's blessing. He brings up the subject to James and he gets challenged in his capability of being a cop. When James dares him by offering a ride along on a police workday, Ben takes him up on it.
The two get into some very silly situations during the ride along that unbeknownst to Ben are a set up. Director Tim Story (Fantastic 4) keeps his film moving at a fast clip giving the two stars a lot of screen time and showing Kevin Hart at what he does best. When the tempo changes and turns to a more serious tone, Story shows another side of the comedy duo. It must have been a challenge for Story to work with the two actors as they seem to be adlibbing their way though most of the movie.
Kevin Hart puts on a great show with his brand of comedy. A likeable and funny man, the comedian strays very little from his comic persona. He also shows he can get a little testy too, showing his character as one who can stand up against the bad boys when he needs to. But, there's nothing like a straight man to bounce off the comedy and with Ice Cube (Are We There Yet), there's no better guy to work with when it comes to a stern face and a tough attitude.
Films about buddy cops have been worn thin with so many movies using the genre. Martin Lawrence and Will Smith in "Bad Boys", "Lethal Weapon" starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, "21 Jump Street" featuring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum and "The Other Guys" with Mark Wahlberg and Will Farrell, "The Heat" starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy set the bar when it comes to police action comedy. In order to pull off the perfect combo, a little unpredictability would be needed. Unfortunately, we don't get much of it here and for that the moviegoer will have to accept the movie as more of a comedic stage performance by Kevin Hart than a new narrative brought to the screen.
Ride Along has been rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong. Be cautious when deciding to allow immature children see the film as it does have some scenes that are inappropriate for adolescents.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A fun film with a lot of colorful comedy. (C)