The buddy cop comedy has been around for quite a long time and in order to set itself out from the pack, a film like Ride Along must do something different. It does exactly that with the premise of: Who can’t identify with the need to impress someone who is close to someone we love?
That is the situation that the Kevin Hart character of Ben is going through. He is dating Angela (Tika Sumpter), whose brother James (Ice Cube) does not think too highly of him. Given the fact that they have no living parents, it is her sibling who Ben has to secure a “blessing” from to marry her. Yes, Ben has a huge hill to climb.
What may help things is James is an Atlanta detective and Ben has just been accepted to the police academy, fulfilling a lifelong dream to protect and serve. When Ben asks James’ permission to marry his sister, the detective concocts a plan that he thinks will not only save the Atlanta PD from making a big mistake with Ben, but also show Ben why he is not worthy of Angela.
When it comes to buddy cop formulas, what we see teased in the Ride Along trailer is certainly different. The fact that Hart is not a cop yet and is seeking Cube’s stamp of approval on many levels is what sets director Tim Story’s film apart. And Story handles the ebbs and flows of the story quite well, from the action sequences, to letting Hart extol his laugh producing talent and even quieter moments that can put these two in the driver’s seat of a real relationship that could bear fruit in the future. And of course we mean fictionally, but also cinematically as Ride Along could easily be a franchise.
The other aspect of a buddy cop film is that the chemistry between the two leads has to be electric. It works even better in a grounded-in-reality film if there is the funny guy and the straight man. We have that here too. In terms of street smarts, Cube has it in spades, and when it comes to bringing the hilarity, Hart may be one of the best we have working today. And their comic chemistry is off the charts in Ride Along and largely why it works for us.
There’s a subplot about Cube’s searching for a crime lord named Omar who no one has ever seen and is making life difficult for the fine people of Georgia’s biggest city. That is merely an excuse for these two to stay together throughout the day and pursue some real cop work, amongst their bickering and banter.
But, our Ride Along review finds that the criminal aspect is secondary. What moves on all cylinders here is the two leads, the believable romance between Hart and Sumpter and a director who knows what notes to hit… and when.