Ride Along is another in the long tradition of black-comedian-breaks-through-into-all-races-culture-gets-action-comedy-movie. You know, Martin Lawrence did it in Blue Streak. Chris Rock in Lethal Weapon 4. Eddie Murphy did it in Beverly Hills Cop. I'm sure there's more. Or not, and Kevin Hart is just number four. But that's fine. I'm going to continue anyway.
Kevin Hart is the best part of this movie, just like in all the rest or this very specific sub-genre. He is funny, endearing, interesting, nuanced. Everything you want in a leading man. I have loved every thing I've seen Kevin Hart do in film, and continually look for more. He is just great.
Ice Cube is the worst part of this movie. He jokes to the camera, breaking the fourth wall, is just an unpleasant character, and is just not a very good actor. But that's fine. I recently read on a IAmA over on Reddit a glorious nugget of insight into Ice Cube's mindset that I feel explains Ride Along, and his career perfectly. A fan (or troll perhaps, though that doesn't matter to the point I'm getting to) asked Ice Cube about the Are We There Yet? films and franchise, and about how bad they are. And Ice Cube very simply states that he made those movies for his fans' kids.
Think about that. This guy is picking projects to give his fans the things they are asking for. Or perhaps just something that they need. He has fans from 20 years of a career that now have their own kids and needs family films. And now they are older and need PG-13 comedy/action/thrill-ride films. Or he's just doing it to milk them of money, sure. But I personally believe the first one. He isn't a great talent, but I don't think he cares or his fans. He has fans and he is making things for them. And that feels like his contribution to this movie.
This should get me some traffic.
The action in Ride Along is ... serviceable. Nothing spectacular minus the very first car chase and credit sequence, which is awesome (other than a terrible Ice Cube Prius joke). And really, "serviceable" is the perfect word to sum up the whole movie. The comedy is serviceable. The characters are serviceable. The plot is serviceable. The filming is serviceable. The movie is serviceable. And I think that's what they were going for: a serviceable decently fun action flick to be a starring vehicle for both men to elevate Hart and give Ice Cube fans a movie to enjoy that is PG-13. Kevin Hart is excellent, though, so keep an eye out for his next big comedy/starring role.