Matt Manfredi

Ride Along Review


Weak

There's a decent premise to this action-comedy, but the filmmakers can't be bothered to put in the effort to actually make it funny or exciting. Instead, they sit back and hope that the fast-talking Kevin Hart holds our interest. Thankfully, he's quite a lot of fun to watch, creating a likeable character out of an utter moron and generating a few good laughs along the way as he bounces off the other characters.

Hart plays Ben, a videogame addict who wants to spin his career as a school guard into a place at the Atlanta Police Academy. His sexy fiancee Angela (Sumpter) has a brother, James (Cube), who's an undercover detective and wants Ben to prove himself worthy of his sister. So he takes Ben on a ride-along, which he and his partners (Leguizamo and Callen) set up as a series of humiliations. Then Ben inadvertently discovers a few clues in their ongoing case to find mythical arms dealer Omar (Fishburne). And what started as a joke becomes rather a lot more explosive.

Yes, the film is packed with the usual fiery explosions and massive car chases punctuated by Hart's non-stop comedy patter. Ben is the standard cocky, annoying idiot who we know will become someone completely different by the end of the movie (see Beverly Hills Cop, Rush Hour, The Heat, et al). But this allows us to engage with Hart from the beginning, and he finds some sharp humour along the way. Cube, on the other hand, never remotely convinces as a hardened cop; we know he's a big softy. And poor Sumpter, virtually the only female on-screen, struggles to add spice to a thankless role that plays out exactly as the formula demands.

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R.I.P.D. Review


Terrible

The ingredients are all here, but this mash-up of Ghost with Men in Black is a painful misfire, neither funny nor engaging on any level. Even usually fine actors like Bridges and Bacon are left with nothing to do, while Reynolds strains to be the straight guy in a comedy that never raises a smile. And we can feel the filmmakers straining to crank up the wackiness at every turn.

Set in Boston, the story begins when young police detective Nick (Reynolds) refuses to join in a dirty deal proposed by his partner Bobby (Bacon), who then shoots him in cold blood. In the afterlife, Nick is recruited by a manager (Parker) into the Rest In Peace Department, protecting humanity from ghosts who have escaped judgement. His new partner is Wild West sheriff Roy (Bridges), who is reluctant to break the rules when Nick decides to investigate his own death to help protect his widow (Szostak) from Bobby's nefarious plan.

Yes, the plot is so in-grown that it never takes off, circling around a handful of characters even though it involves bringing about the end of humanity. Of course it does. These kinds of movies couldn't have stories that make any sense, and filmmakers can't resist making the ghosts goofy, rubbery cartoons rather than characters who are actually scary or interesting. The excessive use of digital effects makes the whole movie feel desperate as it strains for both laughs and teary emotion, but it gets neither.

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