Ride Along 2 was funny enough to keep me in my seat at the cinema last night, but not funny enough to make me want to watch it again in the future. I’m not mad at the efforts put forth by Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, they played their roles well. While the film has the components to be a successful buddy cop movie and while I laughed and held on during the chase scenes, the end results left me wanting. What exactly did I want? To go home and watch Rush Hour again to remember how it’s really done.
Here are the pillars that all buddy cop movies are built upon and why Ride Along didn’t succeed in taking me to the Promised Land. This post does contain spoilers so don’t get lost in the sauce, lost in the game and try to blame me. I’m leaving out Angry Police Chief and the obligatory Drug Shipment because that’s long and life is short.
Mel Gibson was the original nincompoop in the Lethal Weapon franchise. Their role is to highlight how stuck up their partner is and how much fun law enforcement can be. It’s not always clear cut who the nincompoop is, in Bad Boys, both Martin Lawrence and Will Smith shift into this position from time to time, their chemistry and mastery of their characters allowed them to be fluid throughout the franchise. Kevin Hart is clearly the nincompoop. He is fun and will do anything and everything to make you laugh. After resisting Hart’s advances into my life for a long time I gave in a couple of years ago and watched his stand up and gave him his dues. He is good. Black men comedians have a period of time where they are at the pinnacle of their careers and by force must play police detectives; Eddie Murphy in Beverley Hills Cop, Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys, Chris Tucker in Rush Hour and now Kevin Hart in Ride Along. The problem for Hart is the three before him did it better, did it bigger and his turn as Ben Barber isn’t iconic enough to go toe to toe with the other nincompoops in this genre.
Eddie Murphy was such a genius that he didn’t need any back up or assistance. He played his own buddy in Beverly Hills Cop. Expertly handling both the role of the Nincompoop and the Serious Cop simultaneously. Maybe I should watch this again.
Ice Cube takes his role of Serious Cop and plays it straight down the middle. He ticks all the boxes for what this role entails but I don’t care enough about James Payton. I’m not invested in this character. I didn’t even clock his name was James Payton until I came home to do my research. When Danny Glover told you he was “too old for this shit” in all the Lethal Weapons, you believed him and really wanted Mel Gibson to stop with the tomfoolery so Mutaugh could get home to his wife and kids.
Ice Cube’s character solely exists to prop up Kevin Hart and it’s a shame because the Serious Cop has motivations too and has issues that need to be resolved. Ice Cube needs a date to Kevin Hart’s wedding to Tika Sumpter but this is a flimsy plot device especially when you look at all Hart’s character needs to resolve.
The key to a successful buddy cop movie is balance. There needs to be just as much Serious Cop as there is Nincompoop. Alas, Ride Along never resolves the issues between Payton and Barber so they can effectively solve the case as a team.
“Bring My Husband Home Safely” Wife
Tika Sumpter plays this role well and her face is always eat for the gawds honey. It’s not a particularly challenging role; Darlene Love played Murtaugh’s wife in the Lethal Weapons and Theresa Randle played Marcus’ wife in Bad Boys. LOL. There’s not much to say about this role.
Woman or Girl
This character is just there to be a woman. Sometimes she’s a damsel in distress. Sometimes she’s assertive. Sometimes she’s sexual. In Ride Along 2 Olivia Munn plays Maya, an intelligent and strong Miami detective on the case when Cube and Hart turn up, take over, remind her of her place and illict her help eventually to solve the case. Maya is supposed to be Payton’s love interest but Munn and Ice Cube have no chemistry, physics of biology. There was no finesse in gaining her character’s trust.
Remember in Rush Hour when Detective Carter had to convince kidnapped Soo Young that he wasn’t there to hurt her and he was going to get her to safety? It was such a human moment. Well don’t expect any of that in Ride Along 2 at one point Hart turnsto Maya and tells her straight “You know what your problem is Maya? You think you’re all that, but you’re not. You’re ugly. And you have man hands.”
The cinema burst into laughter. My heart hurt because it was a lazy, mediocre joke. And then out of nowhere Maya turns up to after a club shootout in gym clothes, sweaty, with her police badge hanging around her neck with no explanation. It irritated my spirit because why didn’t she have a shirt in her car? Is this how women are supposed to solve crime? In their sports bras? Fuck off and give me a break. Just fuck right off. LOL. I’m being dramatic, it’s just never addressed and used as a punch line in a dry joke. When men are in a state of partial undress in a movie, there tends to be a story that helps us understand why they got that way. Women aren't afforded this same courtesy, they just turn up semi nude and we're just supposed to accept it.
There are so many opportunities to give colour to this otherwise lifeless character. She drives a monster truck and I want to know why. It’s cool but the Ride Along crew didn’t care because her duty is to be a woman. And that’s it. She did that very well.
Wacky sidekick, third wheel
Previously played very annoyingly by Joe Pesci (or Joe Pepsi as I’ve heard him called) in Lethal Weapon, in Ride Along 2 this pillar is played by Ken Jeong of Hangover fame.
It was this very haphazard attempt at addressing race between Cube and Jeong that let me know I was well and truly over this film.
Cube : You ran from us because we’re black?
Jeong : Look at you. You would run from you.
The cinema erupted in laughter, I erupted in flames.
This character existed in Lethal Weapon to help amp up the comedic value but became redundant when Chris Rock joined the fray. We already have Kevin Hart who is always on 100 thousand, so Jeong’s trillion is too much. You know when it’s cold outside but hot on the tube, so you have to start taking off layers before you melt to death? That’s what A.J made me fell in Ride Along 2.
When that’s all said and done, none of this matters because in less than two weeks the Will Packer produced, Tim Story directed film has already broken even at the box office deeming it a financial success. Know in your heart that I won’t be riding along for a third time when that is announced. This film wasn’t made to cater to me and doesn’t appeal to my delicate sensibilities.
What do you think? Am I being to harsh?
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