The Buddy cop film genre has been around since the sixties, but despite its huge bump in popularity in the 1980’s the genre is still very unchanged. A recent trend in Buddy cop movies is to point out the absurdity that one continuous plot is playing out in film after film and no one bats an eye. Films like Hot Fuzz, 21 Jump Street, and to a lesser extent Copout parodied the buddy cop stereotypes while still being extremely funny. Ride Along takes a very traditional approach than most modern day buddy cop movies, and by traditional I mean it is the most cliché’d buddy cop film I’ve ever seen. If you have never seen a buddy cop film, or if you are attempting to teach a class on the buddy cop film genre and want a single film that utilizes all of the tropes then this movie is it.
Kevin Hart, and Ice Cube star in this “opposites must work together to be good cops” plot, that plays out exactly how you would expect. Hart’s comedic sensibilities play off like more of a poor man’s Chris Tucker, and he doesn’t bring anything new to the table. He is perfectly fine in the role, but the script doesn’t give him much asides from the general “gamer slob” personality that must grow up in order to become a real cop. All of his jokes fall flat, and I feel like his type of comedy may just not be my cup of tea. The jokes about videogame logic working in the real world puts way to much stock in the realism of games like Call Of Duty, and any real gamer will roll their eyes at the hackneyed references to popular terms like “gamertag”. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Ice Cube, whom has some of the films only funny lines. He plays a great straight man, but also has comedic chops of his own on display. In this film he doesn’t get as many laughs as he does in a film like “21 Jump Street” but he does the best with the lines he’s given.
The rest of the cast does a decent enough job, although Lawrence Fishburne is not a terrifying villain, and neither is the threat of John Leguizamo with a gun. A crucial element of the buddy cop film is the villain, and this film lacks a true authoritative memorable bad guy. The female lead of the film Tika Sumpter is enjoyable in the few scenes she’s in but still isn’t given any concrete characterization, and it would have been interesting to know more of her backstory. How did these two meet, and why is she so in love with the biggest idiot in cinematic history? It’s hard to be invested in a love story when you have no reasoning behind its existence, no stakes at all.
Bad comedy can be forgiven, as all we really want from a buddy cop movie is one of two clever lines, and a lot of awesome action. Unfortunately this is one of the weakest elements of Ride Along. There are no good action set pieces, and the small amount of action that does appear in the film isn’t that memorable. Almost every action sequence ends exactly how you would expect it to, leaving the audiences no surprises. In certain scenes early on there is no tension at all, because the action is cut off before it has a chance to begin. In one pivotal sequence Kevin Harts character impersonates the main bad guy, but he impersonates him to CHARACTERS HE HAS ALREADY MET IN THE MOVIE. The two “bad cops” know who he is, and should recognize him as they met him on the same DAY. There is no reason for this plot point, and easily brings you out of the film if you think about it too much.
Overall Ride Along’s not particularly bad it’s just really boring. There’s nothing new to see in this film, and all of the jokes are really obvious. It’s an easy movie to just have on the background while you do chores around the house, or if you are having dinner, but it’s not really worth the time to sit down and watch in its entirety. With a sequel coming in 2016 I hope the quality improves substantially because the cast is good it’s the script that really fails.
The film airs on HBO this Saturday October 4th, give it a watch and see it for yourself.