Osage's Take On...RIDE ALONG (Blu-ray; Universal) - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 2 Old 05-14-14, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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Osage's Take On...RIDE ALONG (Blu-ray; Universal)

Releasing/Participating Studio(s): Universal
Disc/Transfer Information: Region A; 1080p High Definition 2.40:1 (Original Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1)
Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Tested Audio Track: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Director: Tim Story
Starring Cast: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Laurence Fishburne, Jay Pharoah



Tim Story crawls out of his abysmal soup to direct what Mark S. Allen of CBS calls “absolutely the funniest comedy in years” but ends up creating yet another bore fest in the fashion of Mall Cop, Blue Streak and a plethora of other “joke of a security guard teams up with seasoned cop” et al films. Though Story’s Fantastic 4 films were campy, goofy and downright dumb in some spots, they were acceptable when taken for what they were – especially considering the reboot that’s unfortunately coming looks to make Story’s two films shine as if they were Ben-Hur. Here, it seems Story was attempting to throw together some of his favorite black actors – which end up being Ice Cube and the constantly-growing-in-popularity Kevin Hart – to simply churn out a laugh-by-the-numbers formula while concurrently catering to this current liberal, super-politically-correct public we find ourselves entrenched in. Be that as it may, I had much, much higher hopes for Ride Along after seeing the myriad of trailers for it – the film itself was one of the most boring and un-funny comedies I’ve ever experienced.

Let’s begin this analysis by talking about Kevin Hart – this out-of-nowhere comedy star, who continues cashing in on his “shtick” about his physical height, was first truly brought to my attention via the incredibly hysterical 40 Year Old Virgin in which he argues with Romany Malco’s character in “SmartTech” about a free extended warranty on something he purchased…the scene was side-splittingly funny when the film first came out, and you can totally sense Malco and Hart had a great honest time filming it. After that, Hart began doing his own standup routines a la Martin Lawrence and Chris Rock, his stage shows highlighting the sweat dripping off him from the stage lights and the concerts themselves acting as a showcase for a much more foul-mouthed F-bomb-centric comedian. When I caught Hart in subsequent feature productions like the remake of Death at a Funeral (or recalled things I had seen him in prior to 40 Year Old Virgin such as Along Came Polly), I always prepared myself for a pretty heady comedy performance; the guy is pretty flippin’ funny even if he is attempting to take a page from other black comedians in and out of his generation like the aforementioned Rock, Lawrence and Eddie Murphy.

This brings us to Ice Cube – was it really necessary for this “I have a hard time smiling” ex-thug from NWA make a bunch of mainstream films that he is truly not cut out for starring in? Sure, his music was great in and out of NWA, but this guy is far from an actor; we first saw this when he attempted to “cross over” to mainstream films (in other words, he began branching away from “ghetto-centric” ones like Boyz N The Hood and Higher Learning) like Are We There Yet, and that’s when people began calling Cube a “sellout.” Clearly, comedy shtick is not this guy’s forte, yet here we are again with Tim Story casting him in a somewhat lead role as an Atlanta undercover cop attempting to teach his future brother-in-law a thing or two about being a man before the idiot marries his (pretty hot) sister (the idiot in this case being Hart’s character). You know what I found hypocritical and ironic right off the bat? Cube played a big role in rap group NWA’s success and went on to do a track called “F the Police” off their Straight Outta Compton commercial debut album…yet here he is portraying a police officer…

Be that as it may, Ride Along is downright stupid and offputting right out of the gate – the jokes aren’t funny and because of the PG-13 rating, the characters aren’t given enough breathing room to do…well, what they do best: Curse up a storm. We get some mild vulgarities, but this quasi-family-friendly comedy keeps the laughter in a rather clean area – and it suffers for it. Hart portrays Ben, a security guard at an Atlanta high school who spends his days attempting to be cool, tough, hip and prominent by breaking up fights between white kids (I’m not kidding – at one point Hart exclaims, while almost screaming in an annoying fashion, ”You’re white!! You’re white!! You don’t fight!!”). But the girl this little annoying twit comes home to every night makes it all worth it – Tika Sumpter plays the delicious, toned-bodied Angela, sister of Ice Cube’s James Payton cop character, who walks around the couple’s Atlanta condo in tank tops and workout clothes, and then later in a jaw-droppingly short formal party dress, showing off the outrageously taut curves she delights boyfriend Ben with. How this guy actually landed this chick is a question for the ages and is completely lost on me; an entire social engineering study could be conducted on this subject and we still wouldn’t have the answers we’re looking for. Honestly. Hart’s Ben Barber character sits around in the condo, when he’s not out protecting the white kids from one another at his high school security guard job, glued to an interactive gaming chair playing army and commando-oriented games with other networked geeks that talk to one another through headsets. And yet Angela still finds him attractive, hunky and masculine (later in the film, she herself gets addicted to the video game Ben has been playing; ridiculous). What’s even funnier is the fact that when Hart stands next to Sumpter, she’s at least two to three inches taller than him – and that’s before she slips on any kind of high heel.

Ben’s dream is to get into the Atlanta Police Department, but this notion is multifold – he wants to show Angela he can be the right man for her by taking a real job, finally, before asking her to marry him, but he also has some misplaced penchant for believing he is the ultimate choice in urban combat…a notion fed to his empty brain by the bozos he “games” with and that eventually makes him believe he’d be the world’s best super cop (you know…male ego-driven testosterone fantasies fueled by millions of years of evolution from our days living in caves and clubbing our women over the head). We’ve seen this notion get played out before, but here Hart makes it especially difficult to swallow with his constant whining, bickering, crying, screaming and moaning – remember how annoying Martin Lawrence’s character was throughout the Bad Boys films? Hart makes him seem like a choir boy in comparison.

When Ben finds out, one day, that he’s been accepted into the Atlanta Police Academy, he’s ecstatic and gets to tell Angela’s over-protective brother James (Cube). Things get worse when Ben tells James he wants his permission and blessing to marry his sister, which enrages the cop to the point he demands Ben prove himself by coming on a “ride along” with him the next morning. This is where the film goes from batty to downright off-the-wall and stupid – some of the notions suggested here would simply never happen on a civilian ride along with an authorized cop (the “guest” getting to interact with criminal elements in an investigation, getting to hold a firearm, etc.; I know the characters are supposed to be soon-to-be in-laws but this still was far-fetched). Yet Tim Story continues to wield these elements as if we’re supposed to swallow them whole like a raw Xanax pill and ask no questions regarding suspension of disbelief; yeah, okay.

Of course, bright and early the next morning – around 6:30 to be kind of exact – Ben awakens to the shock of James sitting in their bedroom already waiting for the wannabe cop and munching on remaining bits of breakfast. From there, Ride Along’s plot wants us to believe that James has been working on some kind of case to break up the illegal doings of one “Omar” (a refreshingly frightening Laurence Fishburne who plays the ruthless criminal in a much more convincing way than he did his “Perry White” character in Man of Steel…can anyone say “one of the worst casting decisions ever”?) along with divisional cops Santiago (John Leguizamo) and Miggs (Bryan Callen), and that James is merely going to take this nitwit of a future brother-in-law along with him in the midst of this chaos. Well, things start off bad right out of the gate when Ben checks in with James at the police department before going out on their run; Ben begins playing with everything he can get his hands on, including computer terminals, criminal files and more, before signing a ride along waiver (an accurate element) so he can take this ride with James.

As asinine as I feel Cube is portraying even an undercover cop, his character has quite the day planned for Ben, who seems more interested in blurting out dialogue lines by Denzel Washington in Training Day (which got utterly annoying after a while; even when Cube’s character does some of it). Driving James completely up the wall with his non-stop rhetoric and tantrums, the seasoned detective decides to take a call from dispatch regarding some motorcycles that are parked in a handicapped space outside some bar in order to get the rookie’s feet wet in law enforcement. When they arrive at the bar, a motorcycle gang seems to have laid claim to the parking spaces in front and James instructs Ben to walk over to them and demand that they move – of course what happens is madness, what with the gigantic bikers lifting tiny Kevin Hart off his feet to show their superiority, et al, while Hart’s character confuses a woman for a man because “it” has a beard. Some of this was chuckle-inspiring but far from hysterical or groundbreaking in terms of comedic approach.

The remainder of Ride Along concentrates on Ben driving James so nuts during this, well, ride along, that the cop can’t take much more…it’s clear this guy isn’t cut out for police work, but James continues to put him in situation after situation which are simply not funny. At one point, the duo enter a gun supply shop where James introduces Ben to the female owner, only to be totally embarrassed when this pint-sized partner of his attempts to fire any kind of weapon in the store’s shooting gallery. Perhaps funniest of this sequence was when Hart’s character gets blown nearly through the back wall after attempting to discharge a 12-guage shotgun, the blast from the weapon’s kick sending the prospective cop catapulting backwards. But to call this “funny” is really pushing it. Making things even dumber is when Ben thinks he picked up on a clue connecting this Omar James is looking for and the female owner of the gun store – the notion is just so totally out there and ridiculous, but Story runs with it in the narrative to the point Hart’s character keeps throwing it in Cube’s character’s face for pretty much the remainder of the film. Annoying doesn’t begin to describe Hart in these scenes.

As the duo seem to close in on the whereabouts of this Omar – and honestly by this point in the film, you won’t even care – they enter one of Atlanta’s ghetto playgrounds where James attempts to find one “Runflat” (Jay Paraoah), a known associate of Omar’s, or something, who may know his whereabouts. Meanwhile, James has Ben attempt to ask some kids playing basketball for information about Runflat, one of which is one of Runflat’s brothers; of course, some more insults about Hart’s physical height transpire here out of the mouths of this kid (featured in the trailer for the film) but embarrassingly the scene ends with the kid screaming out for help because this “molester” (Ben) tried to “touch him,” garnering the attention of all the thugs in the playground and surrounding area. I see what Story was attempting to do here, but it didn’t work; Hart is so difficult to watch in these scenes running away and crying like a two-year-old imbecile that the sequences come off as dumb.

It actually gets worse – the final action setpiece of the film in which James goes in to make the bust of Omar alone in an abandoned warehouse, leaving Ben in his black souped-up Dodge Charger, comes off as so clichéd and ridiculous it’s almost painful to watch. There are some plot elements here that I won’t give away, in case you actually want to see this abomination, involving John Leguizamo and Bryan Callen’s characters as well as the final standoff between James, Ben and Laurence Fishburne’s Omar – eventually leading to, of course, Omar and his thugs involving Ben’s fiancé Angela in the situation for leverage – but if you’ve read this review to this point, you may just be curious enough to know where all this goes.


Ride Along on Blu-ray was typical Universal eye candy, with its 1080p visuals popping from nearly beginning to end. A majority of the shots on this 2.40:1 transfer come off appearing somewhat soft, but this is most likely due to photographic decisions and film style elements. Close-ups of characters’ faces were ripe with detail, exposing pores, facial hair, moles and more while that classic stable, high definition-esque steadiness to the image was on full display. When action shifted to the outdoors, the transfer exploded in a kaleidoscope of colors, with foliage taking on searing greens and the rich, vivid hues of fresh fruits at a farmer’s market bursting off the screen in a hyper-realistic fashion. Black levels appeared stable and intact while no shadow crush was detected, at least not enough to give the transfer a poor rating.


Accompanying the 2.40:1 high definition video transfer on Universal’s Blu-ray release of Ride Along was an English (for Region A) DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that went beyond the standard performance of mixes that normally accompany films like this – with a soundtrack bolstered by, of course, rap music along the lines of Kris Parker’s “Sound of da Police,” Ride Along from the very start opens with a bombastic, bass-heavy riff that carries through the feature’s run time. Though not really memorable in any particular way, the 5.1 lossless mix definitely got the job done with somewhat hushed center channel dialogue elements but otherwise encompassing channel panning, ricocheting of bullets and other weaponry through the rears and a brooding heft during the aforementioned music bursts. This isn’t what you’d call reference or standout in any way, but if you decide to endure this film, the track gets the job done.


Attempting to find a spot amongst “buddy cop films gone awry,” Tim Story’s Ride Along, for all its media hype and buildup marketing, was very disappointing. Not much of it was funny, and it holds as a testament to why “Ice Cube” was never cut out to be a mainstream actor. Kevin Hart was much better in things like Death at a Funeral and 40 Year Old Virgin, and even quasi-veteran actor Laurence Fishburne couldn’t save this bomb. If you’re really curious, grab a rental; I can’t recommend a purchase.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on Ride Along. I am working on my review of I, Frankenstein, as well. Thank you for reading.

Last edited by Osage_Winter; 05-14-14 at 04:28 PM.
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post #2 of 2 Old 05-14-14, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,264
Re: Osage's Take On...RIDE ALONG (Blu-ray; Universal)

Some extremely minor nips and tucks made to review; thank you...
Osage_Winter is offline  


bluray , onride , osage , universal

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