RIDE ALONG 2
** (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Tim Story
STARS Ice Cube, Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart and Ice Cube in Ride Along 2 (Photo: Universal)
Gloria Estefan's "Conga" and KRS-ONE's "Sound of Da Police" are two of the more prominent tunes heard over the course of Ride Along 2, but if the picture had a theme song, then Simon and Garfunkel's "Keep the Customer Satisfied" would best fit the bill.
Enjoyed the first Ride Along? Certainly, plenty of moviegoers did — to the tune of a sizable $135 million — and the Universal Pictures brain trust isn't about to mess with a successful formula. Their strategy: Hire the same director (Tim Story), employ the services of a couple of the same writers (Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi), offer the same standard-issue plotting and similar comic riffs, and then kick back and practice saying, "Show me the money."
Grouchy Atlanta detective James Payton (Ice Cube) and his future brother-in-law, motormouth rookie cop Ben Barber (Kevin Hart), again prove to be an odd — and at-odds — couple even as they now set their sights on Antonio Pope (a sneering Benjamin Bratt), a prominent Miami philanthropist who's actually involved in planning assassinations, dealing drugs, selling arms, and seemingly every other heinous activity this side of running fingernails down a chalkboard. To bag this bigwig, the pair will need the assistance of a competent Miami detective (Olivia Munn) who Ben inexplicably keeps insulting as being too manly (Olivia Munn?) and a computer nerd (Ken Jeong) who was privy to Pope's most incriminating files.
As before, there are a few moments of genuine wit (a geek exchange in the back of a van) as well as several stretches of tiresome shenanigans (an alligator makes an appearance). Cube and Hart again work well together, although this time there are limitations — while I've been praising Hart in one mediocre movie after another, this is the first time that his shtick finally starts to wear thin. Maybe they'll give him better material in Ride Along 3.