Waiting for Intermission: Review of "Ride Along"


Some films are emotional game changers. Audiences react powerfully to these films, develop a new perception on the nature of human existence, and then cheer when these films sweep awards season.

Then there are other films designated solely for consumption. They fill ninety minutes, lower the brain a few IQ points, and are quickly disposable upon leaving the theater. Despite the critical description, audiences sometimes need movies from this latter category. Tim Story’s newest film “Ride Along” performs a decent job being the so-called ‘distraction film.’

The film follows Ben (Kevin Hart), a security guard trying to secure a marriage blessing from his girlfriend’s overprotective brother James, a police officer for the Atlanta Police Department (Ice Cube). This journey entails a police ride along, soon turning into a hunt for a notorious weapons dealer. “Ride Along” will never land a spot on AFI’s list on top 100 comedies, but it has just enough moments of good acting and general hilarity to offer a viable distraction from the outside world.

For the first half of the film, “Ride Along” appeared to only be as good as its trailer. The trailer centered around three main jokes, all focusing on Kevin Hart’s height. These repeated cheap jokes form the backbone of the first half and are told within a half hour. Other jokes become extensions of the original trailer or are unnecessarily excessive. The humor can be a slight disappointment from the deliciously raunchy comedy packed in Hart’s repertoire.

Moving from the humor, lack of plot consistency weakens the overall pacing of the film. One such moment occurs with Hart lecturing a student about skipping school. The scene is set up to showcase Hart’s strength in lieu of physical prowess, but then loses importance after that scene. The film attempts to make some references to this earlier scene, but they are not direct enough to suggest continuity. In addition, random cinematography choices, such as relaying unimportant texts on screen, further stilt the pacing in the film. The movie stretches itself out to accommodate for a predictable plot structure.

Surprisingly, the film manages to find its footing. Underneath the shallow moments of humor are the chemistry displayed between actors in the film. Ice Cube and Tika Sumpter, who plays Ben’s fiancé in the film, create a sibling dynamic both funny and easily relatable. The dynamic between Ben and James also creates some natural moments of hilarity, often funnier than the jokes manufactured for the film.

Other acting performances by John Leguizamo and Laurence Fishburne nicely round out the genuinely funny cast of characters. By the end of the film, the jokes become crisper and the plot inconsistencies are largely smoothed over. These last-minute strengths do not erase the stagnation of the first half, but it is enough to keep audiences from checking their phones in the theater. No matter how much natural humor, manufactured jokes show the holes of a thin plot.

Don’t go see the film if you’re planning on paying for it at the theaters. Find it when it comes to HBO or FX. It will at least be an alternative to the eighteenth screening of “X-Men”.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.