Thursday, January 16, 2014

'Ride Along' goes nowhere new

Riding in the same car, Kevin Hart and Ice Cube cover old ground.
Late in the new comedy Ride Along, Laurence Fishburne shows up in a small role. For those who seek out this mid-January formula job, I won't tell you exactly what Fishburne's doing in the movie.

His presence, however, has an unintended consequence: Oops, you may find yourself thinking, a real actor has arrived in what amounts to another variant on an odd-couple, bromance, cop movie junker that tries to make something out of flying bullets, fiery explosions, dumb car chases and predictable gags.

The set-up: A likable Kevin Hart plays Ben Barber, a guy who desperately wants to land a position on the Atlanta police force. Ben's engaged to Angela (Tika Sumpter), a woman who happens to be the sister of hot-shot Atlanta detective James Payton (Ice Cube).

Protective of his sister, tough-talking James is predisposed to hate Ben, and refuses to approve the impending nuptials -- unless Ben passes a test. He must ride along with James for one day, and prove that he has the right stuff to be a cop.

A murky and mostly irrelevant plot (something about Serbs and gun running) results in a seasonal throwaway that relies almost entirely on Hart's frenetic approach to comedy.

As the disapproving James, Ice Cube scowls his way through another performance, frequently mocking the notion that Ben's skill at video games will help him excel on Atlanta's mean streets.

There's not much help from a supporting cast led principally by John Leguizamo and Bryan Callen as Atlanta detectives who work with James.

You don't have to be a super-sleuth to know that the gags will be plentiful enough to provide even the skeptical with a couple of chuckles. For the most part, though, Ride Along remains distressingly unremarkable, another movie that tries to blend laughs and thrills and comes up short on both counts.

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