Ah, Hollywood and its cardinal rule: if the first movie is a success then it means people want more. Well, Ride Along 2 is not the “more” anyone needs and it’s definitely not the movie anyone asked for. However it’s the movie Hollywood thinks we deserve.
In the sequel, which picks up directly after the first movie, the now former security guard Ben (Kevin Hart) is about to marry Angela in less than seven days, now with her brother James’ (Ice Cube) blessing. Not missing one beat, we’re thrown into the annoying quirks of Ben, as he once again screws up a big bust that lands him on probation. He must once again prove himself worthy enough to be an officer of the law, whether James likes it or not. Sound familiar? All hail, creative thinking.
This time around, director Tim Story has decided to move the paint-by-numbers plot to Miami where our two mismatched partners (now called the Brother-in-Laws) try to stop a criminal who has a panache for illegal contraband and politics. Joining the cast this time around is Olivia Munn as Maya, a Miami homicide detective, and Ken Jeong as a computer hacker whose life is on the line.
Ride Along 2 is barely passable for a comedy. It’s a desperate attempt to waste the audience’s time and money. Clumsier and more frantic than the first installment, the movie doesn’t miss a beat at proving why Kevin Hart is just short and not funny. From the onset we’re bludgeoned to near-death with Hart acting like a pure high-screeched clown as he gets in a slap-stick shouting and height match with Sherri Shepard as their wedding planner. If that wasn’t enough, we have to endure 101 minutes of Hart rehashing the same plight from the first movie as he once again tries to earn respect from those who barely see him as a full person.
The movie is completely unbearable during the first half, however thanks in part to Munn and Jeong, this changes…slowly. The addition of these new characters adds balance to the film, smoothing out the pacing and what passes as jokes. The ying to Hart’s yang, Jeong is the calmer of the two and as a result the movie settles into a natural ease and flow between the cast members. Munn, who can switch between drama and comedy with ease is regulated to play the female version of Cube, a bad ass in a dress, who like all females in this series, no one seems to know how to handle (poor Tika Sumpter). Many times, the script requires her to distract criminals with her busty chest while the men do the hard work, such as being attacked by an alligator and look manly in a corner. Yay, girl power!
Between the booty shaking, Hart’s loud outfits, the half-naked models, the pure underwhelming and the insulting use of thick-accented Benjamin Bratt as a boring stereotypical villain, there is a bright-side to this movie (besides the ending). Ben, the polar opposite of James, has a unique way of processing a police chase that plays out in a rather innovative way and is fun to watch onscreen. The Grand Theft Auto-inspired sequence is pulled of effortlessly as everything is transformed into a video game, including the hardened James. It is in this moment you completely forget the laziness of this movie, as everything comes together in a chemistry of perfection and just works. One of the best jokes that’s delivered is during a scene where Ben breaks down the usage of custom ringtones and how men categorize their female callers. It is moments like this where you question why the writers (Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi) and director would deliver such a stifling movie when they clearly have the creative fortitude to do better.
Unless you like purely stale plots that flow as well as a cheapened Bad Boys, this is not the movie for you. Throughout the film you’re taunted with hopes the movie will become better, but just like life, those dreams are but broken promises and heart aching mirages. While the movie is rich in diversity, unfortunately, that’s where its richness stops. Forgettable and a complete lackluster mess, Ride Along 2 will have you begging to ride solo in a different car.