RIDE ALONG 2
*** (out of 5)
January 15, 2016
Ice Cube as JAMES PAYTON
Kevin Hart as BEN BARBER
Tika Sumpter as ANGELA PAYTON
Benjamin Bratt as ANTONIO POPE
Olivia Munn as MAYA
Ken Jeong as A.J.
Bruce McGill as LT. BROOKS
Directed by: Tim Story
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
January is an odd duck in terms of movie releases. In some ways, you get the best of the best in January, with award films finally getting rolled out across the fruited plain from coast to coast. On the other hand, you sometimes get the worst of the worst, with PG-13 and found footage horror movies dominating the fray.
Then there are the broad mainstream releases, which often take the form of comedies or action films. These releases are a mixed bag. Sometimes they can be decent (like “Parker” or “The Last Stand” a couple years ago), and sometimes they can be downright terrible (like those horrible spoof movies that Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg used to crap out with regularity).
A couple years ago, box office phenom Kevin Hart joined forces with Ice Cube in “Ride Along,” and we got a predictable but fun movie that ended up becoming a box office smash. After it made crazy money in 2014, a sequel was inevitable, which is why we have been given “Ride Along 2” in the same frame two years later.
This time around Ben (Hart) is training to become a detective under the tutelage of James (Ice Cube), with the wedding of Ben to James’ sister Angela (Tika Sumpter) looming only weeks away. To help get Ben out of Angela’s hair – and to prove to him that he really isn’t cut out to be a detective – James takes Ben down to Miami to help him question a suspect. While there, they stumble upon a massive crime ring run by a well-respected businessman (Benjamin Bratt). Of course, with Ben and James meddling about, things quickly get out of control.
In general, unplanned comedy sequels can often be significantly inferior to the original films. Examples of this range from the “Arthur” and “Porky’s” movies in the 80s to “American Pie” in the 90s to more recent attempts like “The Hangover.” However, because the “Ride Along” films are essentially buddy cop movies, it’s possible to make a sequel that manages to create that lightning in a bottle the second time around.
It doesn’t hurt that the whole gang is back in place, including director Tim Story. So, for better or for worse (depending on your opinion of the first film), you’re getting more of the same with “Ride Along 2.” That means you’ll either go in knowing that you’ll enjoy the flick, or you should just stay far away from it. If it’s the latter, don’t feel bad. Kevin Hart doesn’t need your money. He’s doing fine without your bargain matinee ticket fee.
While far from perfect and falling into the expected predictable and trite storyline we’ve seen before in dozens of other buddy cop movies, “Ride Along 2” certainly works as a broad comedy. Kevin Hart brings the energy, and Ice Cube brings the cool, which is what gives them such good chemistry. Add to the fact that the film is freshened up by bringing in some new blood in the form of Olivia Munn as their Miami contact and Ken Jeong as the criminal hacker they’ve traced to Florida.
Considering how terrible some mainstream releases can be this time of year, “Ride Along 2” certainly is entertaining enough to enjoy as we are quickly becoming bombarded with more serious award films in theaters.