THE MOVIE GUY: ‘Ride Along 2’ not worth the trip

Published 11:02 pm Thursday, January 14, 2016

The original “Ride Along” movie was a nice surprise of an action/comedy, notable for the oddball pairing of Kevin Hart and Ice Cube. The two men have polar opposite personalities, so forcing them to work together was bound to generate sparks—many of which were quite funny thanks to the undeniable talents of Kevin Hart.

The inevitable sequel doesn’t work nearly as well, mostly because the filmmakers aren’t trying to bring anything new to the franchise and the leading man pairing seems a bit stale this time around. Even the addition of some pretty funny supporting actors doesn’t generate much in the way of humor.

This is supposed to be a comedy.

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If it doesn’t make the audience laugh, it’s a failure.

“Ride Along 2” isn’t a complete failure because Kevin Hart is still pretty funny, but he has to work much harder for the laughs this time around. In the original he was a guy desperate to prove his worth to his future brother in law. It was easy to empathize with his misguided quest for approval. This time out he is a fully-trained police officer. He’s still desperate for approval, but his antics frequently smack of incompetence, rather than the excusable actions of a nice guy trying to make good.

The story is basically a re-hash of the original film, with Payton (Cube) letting Barber (Hart) ride along on a drug case that takes him to Miami where they meet a computer hacker (Ken Jeong). This is technically a police procedural, so there will be some mediocre action sequences and one fun foot chase as constantly-bickering duo works to bring down the bad guy. It’s all inconsequential cinematic noise, but that’s okay because nobody comes in to “Ride Along 2” looking for an exciting action film.

The core appeal of the franchise is found in watching Ice Cube scowl and try to keep his macho cool while motor-mouthed Hart inundates him with a never-ending barrage of funny/annoying banter. As I mentioned, it’s not nearly as funny this second time around. The filmmakers wisely called for back up in the form of Jeong, Sherri Shepherd and Olivia Munn, but never found a way to effectively utilize their comedic talents.

It’s a major missed opportunity. Munn has rock-solid comedy chops, but she’s not asked to do anything other than be sexy. Even Benjamin Bratt, playing a caricatured villain fails to make an impact.

“Ride Along 2” proves to be a tired road trip that seldom generates action thrills, fails to introduce interesting new characters and falls back on a very lazy screenplay with the hope that Hart and Cube would generate comedic sparks during the filmmaking process. It should still make money, though, so let’s hope for a much better trip in “Ride Along 3.” This one just isn’t worth the ride.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and KBTV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at