A little Kevin Hart goes a long way in “Ride Along,” a dull buddy picture engineered as a vehicle for the mini-motor mouth Hart and the perma-sneering Ice Cube.
It's mismatched cops on patrol in Atlanta in this “48 Hours”/“Bad Boys”/“Showtime”/“The Hard Way” action comedy where four screenwriters tried to find funny bug-eyed rants for the normally amusing Hart to deliver in between shootouts and chases. But as producers of assorted Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell and Eddie Murphy movies could have told them, just pointing the camera at a funny guy is never enough to save a lame, worn-out idea.
Cube is cranky cop James, whose pursuit of a mysterious villain named Omar is interrupted by his sister's fiancé. That would be Ben (Hart), a video game-addicted school security guard who longs to bring his wise-cracking/voice-cracking banter to the Atlanta P.D. James drags Ben on a ride-along just to convince the dude he isn't cut out for police work and that he isn't good enough for James' supermodel sister Angela (Tika Sumpter).
James drags Ben along for a “Training Day” of botched interventions with bikers, silliness at the shooting range and a strip club shootout.
Even by the standards of this well-worn genre, “Ride Along” is a lazy movie, insulting the audience by letting us stay five steps ahead of the hack screenwriters.
Hart has been funny in concert films and in supporting parts — a few killer scenes where he comes in, lands laughs and splits — in everything from TV's “Freaks and Geeks” to “Think Like a Man” and last summer's “This is the End.” But as this film and his boring bit part in “Grudge Match” proved, a little of the little man is pretty much all we can stand unless he finds somebody who can write for him.
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Cast: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, John Leguizamo, Tika Sumpter, Bruce McGill, Laurence Fishburne
Director: Tim Story
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong language
Theaters: Midtown, Twin Creek, Village Pointe, Majestic, Aksarben, Regal, Oakview, Bluffs 17, Westroads