Kevin Hart really needs help picking scripts. Every film I see him in is so scant on jokes that he has to kick his craziness into hyperdrive to try and pick up the slack. Instead of being funny, he ends up making me want to find earplugs. Ride Along 2 may be the worst example of this situation. He is a pest that plagues this film, a fly buzzing around your head you can’t swat away. Whenever hard-nosed Ice Cube tells him to shut up, all you can do is shout, “Please, for the love of Jeebus, please shut up!”
But of course, this would not be a problem if the jokes were there, but they are not. Things that are supposed to be funny are only attitude related. You need the core of the joke to work for it to be funny, though. A pulled face or weird delivery means nothing if there’s no humorous context for it. There is one, count it one, gag in this movie that has a proper setup and payoff, but unfortunately, it comes with about six minutes left in the film. By that point, you have been so drained of any emotion you can barely muster a chuckle for it.
Cube and Hart return as soon to be brothers-in-law James Payton and Ben Barber. Payton is continuing to be the no nonsense Atlanta detective. Barber has been on the force for a month (so he is clumsy and stupid on the job). After a job causes massive amounts of property damage (something they are constantly chastised about but nothing is ever done about it), they find a piece of intel that connects an Atlanta drug dealer to a Miami-based hacker (Ken Jeong), who is working for the corrupt shipping magnate Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt). Also, Barber’s wedding to Payton’s sister (the absurdly gorgeous Tika Sumpter) is only a week away, so they need to wrap up this case before then.
It’s a pretty standard buddy cop movie premise. Because the plot is fairly routine, making it work comes almost exclusively from character. I enjoy Ice Cube in comedies. He works as a good straight man. Whether or not the comedy with him is successful depends entirely on the person he is playing against. If the person isn’t wacky enough or too wacky, the banter dies immediately. Cube is talented, but he isn’t talented enough to modulate his delivery depending on the other actors in the scene. Hart’s Barber goes far into too wacky territory that their chemistry dies. What is supposed to be funny annoyance on Cube’s part is actually genuine annoyance. If he punches Kevin Hart, you aren’t thinking, “Haha. Funny.” Instead, you are thinking, “Finally. Thanks.”
Like Kevin Hart, Ken Jeong is best when reigned in. Though he is not as full force as he is in The Hangover movies, it’s certainly bordering on that front. Put him and Hart in a scene together, and it is nothing but loud chaos. Director Tim Story has zero clue how to manage their energies and decides to let them go hog wild. They stop the movie in its tracks rather than let it progress. And at its core, this is an action/crime film. This is a genre that has no time to stop. It needs to keep moving for it to work. You know, learn new information and overcome obstacles.
The way these kinds of comedies treat women has always been rough, but this one struck me as particularly bad. Barber’s fiancée is nothing more than someone being really pretty. The wedding planner (Sherri Shepherd) is a horrible shrew who yells constantly. Olivia Munn as Maya, a Miami cop, gets close to shirking stupid portrayals of women, but even she, for no reason, has to show up to a crime scene wearing a sports bra and yoga pants. We understand Munn is an extremely attractive person. Why do you have to trot her out in this? Her and Cube do have a nice rapport, though, which is about the only part of Ride Along 2 I did enjoy.
All this movie needed to do was make me laugh, and it didn’t. I let out a mild chuckle once, which is a horrible hit rate for a comedy. The public audience who were jazzed and stood in line for hours to see this movie barely laughed as well. Kevin Hart drains you of all your energy watching him. I’m assuming it’s because he has to feed off of it in order to operate. The opposite should be true. The movie should be filling you with energy. Laughing and action should be fun, not dull.
Categories: New Releases