One reason Ride Along should not have worked: four credited writers. Greg Coolidge (who also gets story credit) comes from a sordid amount of comedies such as Employee of the Month and Sorority Boys; Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay have worked together on the likes of Crazy/Beautiful, The Tuxedo, Æon Flux, and the Clash of the Titans remake; while Jason Mantzoukas (most familiar as the disgustingly hilarious Rafi on FX’s The League) has contributed to Adult Swim’s gleefully subversive Childrens Hospital. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of what wound up on screen was improv as it’s obvious Kevin Hart was allowed total free-will, making the film funnier than it has any right to be.
Ben (Hart) is a fast-talking high school security guard who wants to propose to his girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter). Problem is Ben has to make nice to her rough-edged brother James (Ice Cube), who works as a detective for the Atlanta police department. James decides to let Ben prove himself by taking him on a ride along, requesting all 126’s (annoying calls no one wants) to try to rid himself, and Angela, of Ben forever. Ben thinks he’s up to the call of duty, but winds up in over his head after James’ most dangerous case — involving a mysterious drug lord named Omar — keeps trickling its way into their day. Eventually, Ben and James must work together just to stay alive, if James doesn’t wind up shooting Ben first.
Universal cruises Ride Along onto Blu-ray on a 50GB disc in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. You wouldn’t expect the kind of flawless transfer from this kind of film. Black levels never suck the life out of the picture, with all kinds of shadow detail on display. Aliasing, banding, noise, or any other anomalies are non-existent as well. Detail is impeccable whether it’s facial features, clothing details, building facades, or dust in a flashlight beam. Shot with Epic Red cameras, this is one of the best looking comedies on the market.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is as front heavy as you’d expect in a comedy, but surrounds keep ambiance alive whether it be crowded malls, chirping birds, rumbling Harley’s, or the occasional gunfight or explosion. Dialogue is never drowned out, keeping the jokes as high-flying as the bullets. An additional Spanish 5.1 Digital Surround track and a Descriptive Video Service are available, along with subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
The special features come locked and loaded, but would seem repetitious were it not for the cast and crew involved. An “Alternate Ending” (1:42) kicks things off that feels wisely excised and six “Deleted Scenes” (8:23) include “James Meets Marko,” “Ben Dresses For Work,” “Ben Proposes To Angela,” “Drive To Hospital,” “Driving To Angela’s,” and “Omar Escapes,” In an “Alternate Take” (1:38) Hart slips into R-rated territory and is reigned back in by Cube and director Tim Story.
The rest are your typical assortment of extras including a “Gag Reel” (2:59), and a bunch of featurettes: “It Was a Good Day – On the Set of Ride Along” (11:52), “Kev & Cube’s Wild Ride” (5:16), “You Gonna Learn Today” (4:39), “Anatomy of the Big Blast” (4:50), “An Explosive Ride” (5:08), and “Atlanta: The Character” (3:19). The director’s commentary rounds things out with Story repeatedly saying so-and-so would punch them in the face for various things, including Universal if he were to reveal the film’s budget — it’s a surprisingly funny commentary.
Ride Along won’t go down as the funniest film of the year, but is it funny? Absolutely. Ice Cube and Kevin Hart play off each other very well, with Cube being the straight man against Hart’s spew of verbal diarrhea. The film is way better than the 18% score on RottenTomatoes. It’s unsurprising Universal ordered a sequel considering it raked in nearly six times its reported production budget.
Most critics were quick to dismiss the film while audiences ate it up. While I missed the daytime press screening the film was given locally (it was not screened for audiences in my market), I never caught the film in theaters after its release. However, having finally reviewed the Blu-ray — featuring stellar picture quality — I can see what audiences were so enthusiastic and recommend the film to anyone curious to see it for the first time, and fans will be pleased to add it to their collections.
Cover art and photos courtesy Universal Pictures[amazon template=iframe image&chan=default&asin=B00HX1FD5Q]