How do you freshen up the buddy cop action comedy genre? Well, you might want to start by casting veteran multi-hyphenate Ice Cube as the hard-nosed, bad-tempered cop, and current hot ticket Kevin Hart as the over-ambitious and underprepared wannabe. Next, add a family aspect that adds an extra layer of tension and emotion to their relationship. Then, let their personalities run wild in a setup that blends intense action alongside laugh-out-loud comedy with just the right amount of heart. Tim Story’s Ride Along followed this incredibly specific formula to great success, enough to inspire Universal to greenlight a sequel. If you missed it in the theaters, you’re in luck since it’s now available on home video. Hit the jump for my Ride Along Blu-ray review.
Hart’s Ben Barber has big ambitions but little apparent talent to get him there save for his endless supply of confidence. As a high school security guard and platinum-level gamer, Ben is aiming higher with plans to attend Atlanta’s police academy in order to live out his dream of working in law enforcement. Equal to that particular ambition is a desire to marry his girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter). In order to accomplish both goals, he’ll have to win over Angela’s tough cop brother, James (Cube). When James offers to take Ben on a 24-hour ride along to patrol Atlanta’s seedy criminal underworld, both of them see this as a golden opportunity: for Ben, to prove himself worthy in James’ eyes, while for James, it’s a chance to get rid of this irritating little nobody once and for all.
The setup is a good example of a “high concept” premise with a nice addition of the dysfunctional family dynamic to add an extra layer to the buddy cop relationship. This helps to keep the tone of the action-comedy even, not too violent and gritty while not overly sentimental and sappy. The action takes care of itself as Ben and James encounter various ne’er-do-wells during their ride along, eventually stumbling across evidence that leads them to breaking a long-standing arms-trafficking ring and ferreting out its mysterious leader.
Keeping things light is Hart’s wise-cracking quips and physical humor, which plays off perfectly against Cube’s steadfast and no-nonsense personality. The only knock here is that the script didn’t quite play up their situation as well as they could have. The laughs are scattered throughout the film, but they come packaged in small bites as the plot jumps from one altercation to the next. There’s a nice job of stringing the seemingly unrelated events together in the action storyline, but there’s a little something missing on the comedy side that leaves you with the feeling that the idea didn’t quite live up to its potential. Perhaps that will be further explored in the sequel, but they’ve already used up a good starting premise, so we’ll see how much is left in the tank. Either way, Ride Along is definitely worth a rent if you missed it in the theaters and want to enjoy an entertaining buddy cop comedy.
- Alternate Ending (2 minutes)
- Deleted Scenes (6 scenes) – Pretty standard stuff, but the final scene may tease something about the upcoming sequel
- Alternate Take (2 minutes) – Improv take with Hart and Cube
- Gag Reel (3 minutes)
- It Was a Good Day on the Set of Ride Along (10 minutes) – Behind-the-scenes “making of” featurette
- Kev & Cube’s Wild Ride (5 minutes) – Featurette that focuses on the on-screen/off-screen relationship between Hart and Cube
- You Gonna Learn Today (5 minutes) – Featurette highlighting improv on set
- Anatomy of the Big Blast (5 minutes) – Featurette exploring the film’s biggest stunt sequence
- An Explosive Ride (5 minutes) – Featurette going behind the scenes of the film’s stunt work
- Atlanta: The Character (5 minutes) – A look at the practical locations in the film
- Feature Commentary with Director Tim Story