The clue-seeker and the clueless.
It's easy to find a buddy-cop action comedy at the cinema, but it's hard to find a really good one. Unfortunately, Ride Along isn't a gem of the genre. While films like last year's The Heat and the '80s classic Lethal Weapon offer an appealing blend of thrills and gags, Ride Along seems struck from the same template as the Rush Hour series, which paired an all-business Jackie Chan with livewire Chris Tucker. Substitute Ice Cube and Kevin Hart for this duo and you have a new franchise.
James (Ice Cube) is a scowling detective in the Atlanta Police Department. His lieutenant (Bruce McGill) gives him grief about his fruitless pursuit of a phantom criminal named Omar. Making matters worse, his sister, Angela (Tika Sumpter), wants to marry Ben (Kevin Hart), a videogame-playing joker he despises. Ben is a high school security guard who wants to become a police officer, but James doesn't think he's got what it takes. To make Ben give up on police work and lose Angela's respect, James has him ride along in the patrol car one day. He makes sure this shift will be filled with gnarly incidents.
Hart does his best to enliven the proceedings with a motormouth routine, which yields a mixed bag of laughs and groans. The film's only original element comes from Ben's deep involvement in videogaming. This affords him some specialized knowledge in the heat of battle, even if he is a nincompoop when it comes to handling a real gun with live ammo.
Tim Story previously directed Cube in Barbershop and Hart in Think Like a Man, both of which were enormous successes. If he was hoping to double the success by partnering these two actors, he's got to be disappointed. Ride Along may post strong numbers during its initial release, but it's likely to run out of gas in future laps.