'Ride Along': Buddy comedy is better than most

Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.January 16, 2014 

Ride Along

James (Ice Cube), left, a policeman, tests his potential brother-in-law Ben (Kevin Hart) by taking him on a ride along.



    'Ride Along'


    PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong language. Universal Studios. 1:40. Fayette Mall, Georgetown, Hamburg, Movie Tavern, Nicholasville, Richmond, Winchester, Woodhill.

I know people who think Kevin Hart is annoying and not funny. Ride Along is the movie to convince them they are wrong.

A mismatched buddy cop comedy, Ride Along is a lot like a male version of last year's The Heat, with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.

Hart plays Ben, who is accurately described as "screechy" by his girlfriend's brother, James (Ice Cube), a cop who reluctantly agrees to let his prospective brother-in-law shadow him on the job for a day. The plan is that it will be a day of minor disturbances, but the plan goes awry when Ben inadvertently leads James to a couple of big clues in the long-running hunt for an elusive arms dealer.

Ride Along does a better job of balancing the cop and comedy parts than did The Heat, which wasted far too much time on its tedious mystery. Ride Along is more interested in the chemistry between overly enthusiastic Hart and crabby Cube, and it's pretty much golden.

Ben is a slacker, nerd and compulsive talker, all of which are in Hart's wheelhouse, but his, well, screechiness is balanced by Hart's innate sweetness and the fact that he has a dream of being a policeman and is willing (sort of) to work for it.

James is sarcastic and could be perceived as a jerk, but Cube makes his apparent willingness to let Ben hang himself much more likable than I bet it read on paper.

Anyway, the contrast between eager Hart and withholding Cube, his eyebrows permanently set on "throwing shade," is consistently entertaining.

The third key player in Ride Along is director Tim Story, who, like a good point guard in basketball, makes everyone around him better. His Barbershop, Think Like a Man and Ride Along are all comedies that easily could have gone too broad, but he keeps the performers honest, the story on track and the laughs coming.

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