MRR Review: "Ride Along"

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Rating: PG-13
Length: 100 minutes
Release Date: January 17, 2014
Directed by: Tim Story
Genre: Action / Comedy

"Ride Along" is the adventure of a lifetime for one wannabe gamer and his potential fiancé's police officer brother. The film centers on the conflict of two men trying to show affection and compassion for one woman, while the two also attempt to come to terms with their own differences. The challenge here comes when the two have to acknowledge each other's unique strengths so that they can step up and protect themselves and the people they love. Finding common ground and overcoming incredible odds in the name of love become the central themes in this fun and exciting motion picture.

Falling in love is easy, but marrying a police officer's sister comes with its own unique challenges in "Ride Along," an action comedy starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. Tim Story's take on a funny cop drama is largely influenced by his previous work on major action films like Fantastic Four and comedy titles such as Barbershop, culminating in a film that generates a lot of laughs while at the same time delivering heart-stopping excitement.

The story follows the trials of Ben, a hapless security guard and video game enthusiast with no concept of the real dangers of policing or the right way to hold a gun, as he tries to make a good impression on his girlfriend's family and earn her hand in marriage. The trouble for Ben is that his girlfriend Angela has a brother, James, who is an Atlanta police officer and feels Ben is not worthy of his sister. To challenge the potential match, James says Ben must ride along with him for one night in his cruiser, answering calls and seeing how dangerous the world really is. If he can pass the test, then James will give Ben and Angela his blessing.

James intentionally sets Ben up for a terrible night on the town, but the two quickly encounter one of the city's most notorious criminals who is not in on the proposal hazing. Things get out of hand and the two would-be adversaries join forces to avoid danger and clean up the town. Instead of taking Ben for granted, James learns that everyone has hidden talents and special abilities that are uniquely valuable. At the same time, Ben gains a new respect for James and comes to understand the need for protecting his girlfriend more closely in such a treacherous world.

Despite the disdain the two men show one another at the start of the movie, "Ride Along" finds both of them in dire straights that force them to see others in a new light. There are several instances throughout the picture where people learn to see matters from a different perspective, thereby providing characters with epiphanies that are integral to Ben and James saving the day. While many of the events in the movie are more slapstick and silly than believable, the over-the-top qualities of the exciting chase scenes help reinforce the outrageous nature of life.

Ben and James come to a mutual understanding after struggling to understand each another in a way that is common among many social groups. The pair approach ideas from totally different places, with one seeing problems and handling them in a traditional manner while the other is more interested in taking things easy or thinking outside the box. These opposing personality types butt heads in the real world all the time, but "Ride Along" focuses more on how the pair are able to solve their differences in times of trouble. The key is communication, and in a film where fast-talking Ben is constantly delivering one-liners to lighten the mood, it is easy to take a funny lesson from this movie.

In addition, "Ride Along" shows that people need to think about one another as more than just labels. When confronted with different kinds of criminals, Ben and James do not treat all of these individuals with respect because of the way they act or the lifestyles they choose. By learning to see people for the talents they posses and trusting the goodness of others, the pair are able to overcome crime bosses and thwart dangerous attacks on their lives.

"Ride Along" delivers a rollicking good time without weighing down the audience with too much heavy back story. It jumps right into the plot and launches funny scenarios at the lead characters that continue right through the close, helping to balance out the few heavier elements in the film. This makes it an ideal picture for younger viewers, despite its PG-13 rating, and it is great for date-night viewing as well.

Rating: 3 out of 5