You can count on Kevin Hart to be consistent if nothing else. There’s little surprises now in his films and you either find him sidesplitting funny or obnoxiously annoying. If you’re in the former, you’re going to love Ride Along 2. Those still unconvinced of his brand of comedy aren’t going to be sold this time either.
At this point in his career, Hart has settled comfortably into the footsteps of his comedic predecessors Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence. Hart’s shtick isn’t groundbreaking and he’s content to stick with what’s working.
You could easily swap Hart’s Think Like a Man character into the Ride Along franchise with little distinction. It’ll be interesting to see Hart enter in the second act of his career when his over the top antics have worn thin with the majority of his fanbase. For now, the physical comedy, high-energy and uncontrollable is all he needs to entertain audiences.
While the first film had this interesting hybrid of 48 Hours 48 Hrs. [Blu-ray] meets Lethal Weapon, the sequel liberally borrows from the Rush Hour [Blu-ray] playbook … minus the martial arts skilled Asian partner. Ken Jeong’s character is a party-loving hacker instead.
Despite becoming a police officer, Ben (Hart) is still trying to prove himself to his future brother-in-law James (Ice Cube). After screwing up a major operation, Ben pleads to make amends and driving James and his wife-to-be Angela (Tika Sumpter) crazy. When a lead takes the investigation to Miami, James reluctantly agrees to take Ben along so Angela can finalize the wedding plans without Ben’s overeager involvement.
Director Tim Story checks off all the boxes with a film set in Miami — bikini clad hotties, fast, exotic cars, club shootouts and the stereotypical drug-dealing Latino villain. At least Benjamin Bratt has some fun playing the ultra smooth, but sinister Antonio Pope. Bratt gets he needs to ham it up a bit for a frivolous comedy and his performance is one of the film’s highlights.
James and Ben get some assistance from Maya (Olivia Munn), a Miami police detective working on a case that’s coincidentally connected to their investigation. And it just so happens James doesn’t have a date for the wedding…
Ice Cube scowls his way through so much of the film that he doesn’t appear to be enjoying himself at all. Granted, he’s playing the straight man to Hart’s zany antics, but Cube has too much charisma of his own to be stuck playing such a one-note character. In the inevitable third film, hopefully Ice Cube gets to lighten up a bit. Munn’s role is equally restrained and she struggles playing the no-nonsense, serious eye candy.
Jeong is probably the only performer that doesn’t get swept up in the Hart whirlwind more than holding his own and delivering some funny moments. But this is clearly the Kevin Hart show and anything the rest of the cast provides is a bonus. While every joke doesn’t land, I appreciate Hart’s commitment to always being on and giving 200 percent He’s silly, goofy, but also really funny.
At 101 minutes, the film starts to wear out its welcome. In a perfect world, this clocks in at 80 to 87 minutes allowing Story to keep the pacing tighter and only keeping the best jokes.
Hart isn’t in the business of making classic, award-winning films, besides it’s not like they’d get recognized anyway. Ride Along 2 isn’t going to change anyone’s life, but it’s good for some cheap laughs, which is all audiences really should expect.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Pictures credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/Universal Studios