Ride Along is a film so casual in its conception and execution, it should be titled Drive Thru. It stars Ice Cube as a lone-wolf Atlanta detective who disapproves of the guy his sister (Tika Sumpter) is living with. Enter Kevin Hart as a mouthy school security guard.
Cube dares Hart to spend a day on the job with him, and we're off to the paces. As cinematic precedents go, this action-comedy is most indebted to 48 Hours, except Ride Along doesn't have a suspenseful criminal enterprise to move the plot along.
Ride Along confirms a few things about Hart: (1) His scrappy short-guy persona is always amusing, and (2) His trailers are better than his films.
In this film, we learn that while he is a verbal acrobat, he's not much of a physical comedian, and Ride Along calls for a lot of pratfalls. Hart still has more tools than Cube, who is neither verbal nor physical; he's purely facial - and even there, it's subtle.
The supporting cast includes Bruce McGill, John Leguizamo, and Bryan Callen, none of them working too hard. There's also a pop-up performance by a well-known actor as the mysterious criminal mastermind Omar, but I don't want to give away the movie's one surprise.
The plot is strictly connect-the-dots. In fact, if you don't see the big twist coming, you're probably surprised when the sun rises in the morning.
There's nothing odious about Ride Along, just empty. This is appeasement, not entertainment.
Ride Along *1/2 (Out of four stars)
Directed by Tim Story, with Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Tika Sumpter, Bruce McGill, and John Leguizamo. Distributed by Universal Pictures.
Running time: 1 hour 40 mins.
Parent's guide: PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes)
Showing at: area theaters