Ride Along

Kevin Hart needs to remember the lesson left by the Hangover films. Funny can mutate into dull when repeatedly re-plowing the same ground.

Ride AlongRide Along has made in excess of $100 million at the box office with many critics now declaring Kevin Hart to be a movie star. While I regret to say this, I didn’t care for the film, and Mr. Hart is dangerously close to becoming little more than a one trick pony.

Like his character in About Last Night, he is a boisterous motor mouth who specializes in vulgarity that women are supposed to view as sexually attractive. While he was saved in About Last Night by the equally vulgar performance by his love interest, Regina Hall, his humor in Ride Along became increasingly tiresome.

Here he plays Ben Barber, a totally uncharming video game freak who lived with Angela Payton (Tika Sumpter), a very beautiful woman who wants to marry him for unknown reasons. Freely using his online name of Black Hammer, her affection for him led you to suspect that she was mentally imbalanced.

Unfortunately, her brother is a surly police officer played by Ice Cube, and Mr. Hart needs to win his respect to ask for the hand of his sister. While Ice Cube hates him, it should also be noted that he hates nearly everyone else in the film.

The film’s title comes from Ice Cube’s offer to Hart to accompany him on a one-day ride to demonstrate his character. Given the fact that Hart has been accepted to the police academy, the two join forces in a series of events that are occasionally funny and more often just plain absurd.

Laurence Fishburne provides a needed asset to the movie, playing a smart villain who Cube has risked his reputation to locate. However, Director Tim Story’s Ride Along suggests that the key to good police work centers on nothing more than mindlessly numbing stupidity. Sadly, I’ve got to acknowledge that I was one of the few people in the theater who found laughing difficult.

However, the most offensive moment of this weak film comes from the performance of Tika Sumpter. In reality, she was little more than the anti-Eva Green, seen repeatedly as a scantily clad, clueless woman who needed to be pulled out of harms way.

I must say that I got to this movie late in its run, and only because my wife and I were joined over the weekend by a former Saudi exchange student who will be graduating from Chapman University in May. Known simply as Z, I told him that while I hated this movie’s appalling previews, I needed the company of the human equivalent of a spare tire if I was going to see it. We went together, he laughed uproariously, and said I should quit acting like an old man.

Maybe that is my problem. You decide.