Thursday, January 14, 2016

'Ride Along 2' quickly crashes

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube reunite for a second helping bickering buddies.

A sequel to the 2014 hit, Ride Along 2 arrives at a time when Oscar nominated movies are still clogging theaters, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues to keep the turnstiles spinning. It's as if the movies haven't yet recovered from last year's hangover.

So it's hardly surprising that Ride Along 2 reflects Hollywood's unstoppable tendency to re-wrap ingredients that led to previous success. This second helping does little more than add a bit of Miami glitz to a formula that wasn't especially inspired to begin with.

As fans of the series already know, Kevin Hart's Ben Barber is a bumbling dope. Ben, a wannabe cop in the first movie, now has a job as a uniformed police officer in Atlanta. He's also poised to marry Angela (Tika Sumpter), a woman whose brother James (Ice Cube) is a hard-boiled Atlanta detective.

You know the drill. Ben does dumb things; Ice Cube's James tells Ben that he has done dumb things. Hart revs his comic engine; Ice Cube scowls.

An especially lame story finds James traveling to Miami to help find a hacker (Ken Jeong). Eager to prove his worth, Ben wants to tag along. A reluctant James agrees, hoping once and for all to prove that Ben hasn't got the right stuff to be a detective.

Showing about as many facial expressions as the frozen-faced Ice Cube, a stiff Olivia Munn portrays a Miami detective who rounds out the law enforcement side of the equation.

Benjamin Bratt plays a less-than-frightening drug lord who corrupts public officials. He, too, is after Jeong's character.

Whether you find Ride Along 2 to be laugh-packed depends on how funny you find Hart. He's energetic, and likable enough, but there's not enough fresh humor in Ride Along 2 to compensate for the numbing amount of gunplay or a particularly gross scene in which Ben is forced to pick hair-covered nachos out of a trashcan and eat them.

Director Tim Story, who made the first movie, as well as the much better Ice Cube comedy, Barbershop, makes Ride Along 2 seem less ragged than it actually is by sprinkling it with female bodies and high-gloss shots of Miami.

Look, I've got nothing against dumb comedies and obviously, Hollywood doesn't either, but even dumb comedies need more by way of novelty than Ride Along 2 manages to muster.

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