Ride Along 2 (2016)

01/17/2016  By  Joseph Wade     No comments

Kevin Hart’s quest to take over the world through the power of screaming continues unabated in Ride Along 2, a big budget sitcom where the plot turns out of convenience and nobody learns a goddamn thing. If you’ve seen the first Ride Along, you know exactly what to expect out of the sequel: more of the same, but just a little bit worse.

After finally joining the Atlanta police force as a probationary beat cop, Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) sticks to his soon-to-be brother-in-law detective James Payton (Ice Cube) like glue. Because the boss’ orders mean nothing, James agrees to take Ben with him on a mission to Miami to pick up computer hacker AJ (Ken Jeong), who might have some dirt on a drug runner James has been chasing. James and Ben team up with a local detective named Maya (Olivia Munn), who points them in the direction of Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt), who just so happens to be the drug kingpin currently employing AJ. Bullets fly, bodies drop, and Ben saves the day by once again pretending he’s playing a video game.

While the first Ride Along had Ice Cube put Kevin Hart through a series of increasingly obnoxious tasks, this time Hart is stuck playing comic relief in a boilerplate cop movie starring Cube. Ride Along 2 sprinkles a pinch of jokes across the top for added flavor, but there’s really not much to laugh at here. Even if Kevin Hart’s brand of flailing and screaming is your thing, he doesn’t get many chances to do it. Since the film is set in Miami and features Tyrese Gibson for a couple minutes, you’d be forgiven for thinking this might become a goofy take on a Fast & Furious movie. Instead, it’s just an episode of CSI: Miami minus David Caruso.

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Looks like Ben is still… wet behind the ears. YYYEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!

Aside from the fact that he’s marrying James’ sister, Ben has no redeeming qualities of any kind. This has just as much to do with Kevin Hart’s “comic relief” mode being annoying as hell as it does with the script not knowing what to do with him. He screws up every situation he walks into because he’s a loudmouth show-off who thinks he’s a supercop because he’s also a grown man who sits around playing video games. “I play Grand Theft Auto on my days off, so I know all about car chases and guns and shit,” which is a gag so old Jamie Kennedy ruined it way back in 2003. Then again, without that joke there would basically be no movie. I understand you need something to build a character around, but the movie plays that joke so relentlessly that Ben becomes too stupid to live.

So why does James keep Ben around? Maya asks James this very question, and in a rare moment of character development, James lays it out. He admits that nine times out of ten, Ben opens his mouth and spews verbal diarrhea about video games or Star Wars or whatever. But that tenth time? That tenth time, Ben opens his mouth and puts forth brilliant, sage advice. Ben’s one brilliant moment comes thirty minutes before James says this, though, and for the rest of the movie Ben is basically cannon fodder. If you take this as the film showing it’s hand, Ride Along 2 knows 90% of itself is garbage.

Ken Jeong gets a few good jokes, but he’s basically playing the same nerdy manchild as Kevin Hart. So if Kevin Hart’s not doing it for you, brace yourself, because Ken Jeong is here to double your pleasure. And I feel genuinely kind of bad for Olivia Munn, who’s stuck as a de facto love interest for Ice Cube. The movie keeps pushing the two together hoping sparks might fly, but it’s clear Cube wants nothing to do with her. Maybe that was a character thing they failed to develop, or maybe Ice Cube was actively trying to resist a cliched romance plot. Who knows?

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I’m convinced Ice Cube spends half of his screen time asleep at the wheel.

A third film is inevitable. I can feel it in my bones. So in lieu of a closing paragraph, let’s put forward some possible plotlines they could use. Hollywood, feel free to use any or all of these in extending the Ride Along franchise until the heat death of the universe:

Ride Along 3 - Ben gets his first assignment as a detective, but his mom comes to town for the week and insists on seeing what her baby boy does for a living. To get rid of her, Ben convinces James to take her on a ride-along while Ben embarks on his first case.

Ride Along 4Ben throws a birthday party for James at the police station, but is forced to split his attention between the party, which he absolutely cannot screw up, and the suspect he’s supposed to be interrogating on the other side of the building. How long can Ben pretend to be in two places at once???

Ride Along 5The brothers-in-law follow a lead to The Happiest Place on Earth: Walt Disney World! James investigates a drug deal set to go down during the nightly fireworks at Epcot. Meanwhile, Ben sets out to break the world record and ride every ride in a single day.

Ride Along 6It’s exhausting being Atlanta’s greatest superdetective ever, so Ben hires AJ to help him build a robot version of himself to pick up the slack without the Captain noticing. But when Robo-Ben goes haywire and locks Ben in a closet, it’s up to AJ and James to stop Robo-Ben from ruining Ben’s marriage.

Ride Along 7 - In this very special episode of Ride Along, Ben gets a taste of his own medicine when James gets hopelessly addicted to the latest Grand Theft Auto game. It’s up to Ben to stage an intervention, which James capably thwarts with powerups sponsored by Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy.

There ya go. Five ideas for five more Ride Alongs. If you guys burn through all of these, call me in 2025 and we’ll talk about my ideas for Ride Along: The Animated Series.

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Kevin Hart Screaming
Ice Cube Sleepwalking
So Much Boring Detective Work
Truly Thankless Roles for Olivia Munn and Ken Jeong
Replacing An Actual Car Chase With Cheap Video Game Mock-Ups

About Joseph Wade

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Joseph Wade is secretly three bulldogs in a trenchcoat. Their favorite movie is Turner & Hooch.

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