(Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Bryan Callen, et al / NR / 99 mins)
Overview: A motor-mouthed high school security guard joins his prospective brother-in-law, a decorated police detective, on a ride along through the mean streets of Atlanta and learns that life on the force is no picnic in this action comedy from director Tim Story (Fantastic Four, Think Like a Man).
Verdict: 'You are the man?" a crook asks Ice Cube as the cop comedy Ride Along opens. "I am the man!" Cube insists. You can't blame him for being defensive. Now a 44-year-old father of five, Cube is three decades away from the furious teenager who co-founded N.W.A. his senior year of high school. He's allowed to soften — or really, melt.
Not that he has. Cube is determined to prove he's still cold and hard. In Ride Along, his default expression is snarl. He's quick to blaze bullets in a crowded mall, admits his WiFi password is "SuspectShot23," and, when carjacking a valet to chase a perp, gets pissed that they offer him a Prius. ("Man, get that bullshit out of here.")
His Atlanta detective has two problems, and a conscience about ignoring the rules of engagement ain't one. First, the force is sick of him pursuing an unknown mastermind named Omar, and second, his sister (Tika Sumpter) is engaged to marry a 5-foot-2 high school security guard (Kevin Hart) who Cube grumbles is "about a chromosome away from being a midget." Someone should tell him there are worse things that could happen to his sister than a dude trying to put a ring on it, but judging by his daydreams of blasting Hart in the chest with his Glock, I'm calling Not It.
Hart plays a video game expert who wants to shoot real bullets by joining the police. (No, there's no height requirement, but yes, Atlanta candidates have to be able to scale a six-foot wall.) Sure, he's a small man, casually hopping on a kitchen counter in his scenes with 5-foot-7 Sumpter to gain a few inches and resigning himself to disappearing completely from the screen when she presses him against the wall for a kiss.
But the script assures us he's got a big package — his game nickname is BlackHammer — and an even bigger mouth. Which he needs. With Cube in dour dickhead mode, the stand-up comic works double-time for laughs, just as he had to do in Grudge Match. He's forced to talk for two, eventually getting so hyped up he delivers his lines at a scream. Hart's a millimeter away from obnoxious, but his desperation won me over.
At least he's trying to entertain!!