Heading into a movie with expectations can change the outcome of the experience more than almost anything. An example is when I headed into The Legend of Hercules expecting some B-level fun – not a great movie, but something that made me smile. When I left, I was so disappointed that I came home and pumped out over 1000 words of disgust at the results of that movie.
On the other hand, I went into Ride Along with no expectations. Honestly, I wanted to head to the press screening and then slip in to see just about any other movie than the one that I was sent to see. Of course, that would never happen and I slumped into the Ride Along screening expecting to hate every minute of it. Through the first 15 minutes or so of the movie I didn’t like hardly anything and my dread was becoming a reality.
Then something happened.
Kevin Hart turned out to be funny. The water and oil dynamic with Ice Cube actually worked. The action was really pretty solid. And – most shockingly of all – I laughed a lot. I expected to hate Ride Along with my entire soul and ended up having a really good time at the movies.
Ice Cube is a straight edged and intense cop named James Payton. He has no partner, although he has two other officers he works with (John Leguizamo and Bryan Callen) as he tries to bust a mysterious criminal no one has ever seen named Omar. He also has a beautiful sister named Angela who is in love with Hart’s Ben Barber, a man that Payton considers a midget who would rather make excuses than be a man about anything.
When Ben asks James for permission to marry Angela (their parents are dead and Angela said she wants James’ blessing), James says that he will take Ben along on a ride along for the day to give Ben a chance to prove himself. Then James sets out to sabotage Ben. It could have made for an ugly movie, but somehow Ice Cube is able to give James enough character to make him redeemable.
I was more surprised by Kevin Hart. Honestly, coming in all I could think of was Chris Tucker and that dynamic with Ice Cube from the Friday movies. I really saw Hart as a low-rent Chris Tucker, someone whose squealing and mousy attitude would wear thin quickly. While there were moments where I thought Hart could rein it in some, he managed to pull off the role without grating on my nerves. The guy had some great one-liners and was able to play the little big man better than I expected.
It was the buddy cop dynamic between the two that made it work. There were also some nice twists where I thought the movie was heading in one direction and then changed directions. Of course, there were also some plot points that I saw coming from a mile away, but it was never enough to hurt the movie.
At the end of the day, Ride Along was nothing really special and was just a basic buddy cop movie that added very little to the genre. However, it worked great as a fun night out at the movies and is a lot better than I expected. Temper your expectations to just expect some light hearted fun and some good laughs and you shouldn’t be disappointed.