- on Friday, 15 January 2016 14:59
- by Frank Wilkins
The unlikely comic pairing of Ice Cube and Kevin Hart gets another go-around as the dynamic duo of dysfunction continue the journey for a second installment in the Ride Along series.
Perfectly positioned in the January dumping ground, Ride Along 2 should never be mistaken for anything other than what it is: a zany, madcap buddy movie chock-full of over-the-top antics and rapid-fire zingers meant to make people laugh. The threadbare buddy-cop plot provides nothing more than a breezy vehicle for Hart to squeak and for Cube to growl. If that's your thing, then knock yourself out.
Others will quickly notice the thinness of the follow-up's emaciated script that feels rushed, as if to capitalize on the success and nostalgia that brought in more than $140 million in 2014. Director Tim Story and his producers knew they had something unique and special in the chemistry of the film’s two leads during the original's production, so they quickly began preproduction on the sequel even before the editing process was completed.
Unfortunately, their one-trick pony isn’t special and unique enough for a second ride. Story and writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi focus their attention on that comedic character dynamic that began to run on empty in the first Ride Along instead of spending time on a new and unique premise. As a result, Ride Along 2 gives us more of what we expect, but less of what we want.
Ride Along 2 picks up a year after our heroes’ last adventure. Fast-talking Grand Theft Auto junkie and former security guard Ben Barber (Hart), newly accepted into the academy, teams up with seasoned Atlanta detective James Payton (Cube) to clean up the mean streets of Atlanta. But their latest adventure takes them to Miami with hopes of busting up a crime ring run by what is initially believed to be a legit business man named Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt).
Once in Miami, Ben and James partner with a cyber-criminal-turned-informant (played to extreme obnoxiousness by Ken Jeong), and a tougher-than-nails policewoman (Olivia Munn) to bust Pope before time runs out.
Naturally, the investigation turns out to be more complicated and much more dangerous than they originally expected and the race is on to complete their mission before Ben is set to wed James’ sister back in Atlanta in a few days.
The running gag here is the same as before - think Barney Fife and Andy Griffith. James is the lead investigator, and the one who gets his hands dirty in the investigation, while Ben is always left back in the car to keep an eye on matters. But Ben is Ben and he will never be satisfied with his assignment of menial tasks. So, as we expect, Ben always turns out to be the genius who discovers the next lead, while James grouses about his partner’s ineptitude and unorthodox practices. Rinse and repeat.
Cube and Hart do indeed create a genuinely funny dynamic with their good-cop/bad-cop routine. Ben has something to prove, both as a cop and as James’ future brother-in-law, and James can grow by accepting his pint-sized partner as a legitimate teammate. But make no mistake, Ride Along 2 isn’t about the characters. It’s always about the jokes, so machine-gun punchlines fly, often at the debilitating expense of proper setup and well-executed editing.
The most difficult task of directing any team of Hollywood funny men isn’t knowing what’s funny. Nearly anything that comes out of Cube and Hart’s mouths is going to spark riotous laughter all around.
The skill of capturing “funny” comes from knowing when a joke isn’t working or when a routine has run its course. Story stumbles frequently when he holds too long on a scene. Much of the banter quickly grows old and tired in Ride Along 2 and might play better on the blu-ray special features. In support, Olivia Munn fails to keep up with her lone-wolf detective and, despite her perfect coif and taut sports bra, feels lost in nearly every scene she’s in.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual content, language and some drug material
Runtime: 101 mins
Director: Tim Story
Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Cast: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Tika Sumpter
Genre: Comedy | Action
Tagline: The brothers-in-law are back...
Memorable Movie Quote: "I can't feel my face."
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Official Site: http://www.ridealong.com/
Release Date: January 15, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: Kevin Hart and Ice Cube lead the returning lineup of Ride Along 2, the sequel to the blockbuster action-comedy that gave us the year's most popular comedy duo. Joining Hart and Cube for the next chapter of the series are director Tim Story, as well as Cube's fellow producers—Will Packer, Matt Alvarez and Larry Brezner—who will produce alongside Cube.
No details available.