2014 will definitely see movies that are worse than “Ride Along” — that prophecy will probably be fulfilled before the end of the month, actually — but it’s unlikely to produce any that are more formulaic and uninspired than this flat action comedy. (“Action comedy,” of course, means that there’s a lot of gunfire and exploding cars.)
Written by a committee and directed by Tim Story (“Think Like a Man”), the film stars Ice Cube as gruff Atlanta cop James Payton and motormouth-du-jour Kevin Hart as Ben Barber, his squirrelly, cop-wannabe almost-brother-in-law who goes on a ride-along with him. Seeking to dissuade Ben from becoming a police officer as well as from marrying his sister (Tika Sumpter), James takes Ben on the weirdest, most annoying calls, then stands back and watches while the over-eager putz screws it up. Ben even shoots a guy at one point, but only in the shoulder, and by accident, so James doesn’t care and there’s no paperwork or anything.
Why does a civilian on a ride-along have a gun? Because it’s a stupid movie, that’s why.
Mr. Cube isn’t bad as a straight man (he’s certainly no comedian), but the film relies entirely on Hart’s shtick for its laughs, of which there are a few but not enough. It doesn’t help that every detail of the plot is a retread of other buddy-cop movies — from the blustery lieutenant (Bruce McGill) to the rival cops (John Leguizamo and Bryan Callen) who might be up to no good, to the girlfriend who gets dragged into things by the bad guy (Laurence Fishburne). There’s not a thing to see here that you haven’t seen before, so unless you’re a huge Kevin Hart fan, you might as well wait for the film to go into rotation on TNT.
C- (1 hr., 40 min.; )