Now in celebration of that anniversary, “Ride Along 2,” an even worse comedy, hits theaters this week, no doubt will get even worse reviews and may do just as well if not better at the box office.
If there’s a “Ride Along 3,” I’ve learned my lesson: I’m getting out of the cop car and calling Uber.
Neither film is funny in the sense of humorous lines or comic business or silly slapstick. People merely stand or run around in front of the camera, saying and doing things with no inherent logic and willfully ignoring the hackneyed ingredients driving each scene.
His film comedy is one of constant irritation. If you can somehow imagine all Three Stooges combined into a single character even that would not approach the screeching/mad-man/motor-mouth hyperactivity he achieves on camera.
In this tired rendition of a buddy cop movie, Hart is paired with the slow-simmering, constantly scowling Ice Cube. Thus Ice Cube, older, wiser and straight-man to the max, looks aghast as Hart goes crazy in every scene.
“Do you ever listen to the shit that flies out of your mouth?” Ice Cubes asks him at one point in “Ride Alone 2.”
Whether Hart does this on autopilot or he’s actually reciting lines written by the writers, I have no clue. But what does fly out of his mouth takes on the quality of white noise wherein you can barely distinguish actual words but rather get the drift of the anguish or joy or frustration or latest brainstorm from Hart’s “little man-child” character (that’s Ice Cube’s description, not mine).
Couple this exasperating comedy style with a movie filed with lame schtick, routine action and formulaic storytelling and you’re in for a dreary night at the movies.
Yet, obviously, many people liked “Ride Along” and will no doubt like this sequel, also directed by Tim Story. I don’t see this as a threat to civilization, the death of comedy or an insult to anyone’s intelligence.
It’s simply a matter of taste: Fans of Hart get a kick out of his goofing around while film critics, by and large, do not. Your crazy uncle can tell a joke badly at a family gathering and everyone’s sick with laughter. But you only hear a badly told joke.
Different strokes, baby.
All of Hart’s supporting players, in order to register at all, have intelligently imagined themselves to be in a different movie. Olivia Munn of HBO’s “The Newsroom” takes the view she is in a cop movie so survives with dignity intact.
Benjamin Bratt, once an actor to watch but that was a while ago, has decided he’s the villain in a James Bond movie. Ken Jeong of “The Hangover” series, brought aboard to pair with Hart whenever Ice Cube needs a break, continues in “Hangover” mode.
Returning actress Tika Sumpter, who plays Hart’s fiancee, imagines she is starring in a wedding comedy such as “Bridesmaids” or “The Wedding Planner.”
And Ice Cube? Hey, he’s one of the producers so he’s counting box-office receipts. And probably not scowling.
So to paraphrase Yogi Berra, “Ride Along 2” is déjà vu all over again. Only déjà worse.
Opens: January 15, 2016 (Universal Pictures)
Production companies: A Will Parker Prods./Cubevision production
Cast: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Ken Jeong, Benjamin Bratt, Olivia Munn, Bruce McGill, Tika Sumpter, Sherri Shepherd
Director: Tim Story
Screenwriters: Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi
Based on characters created by: Greg Coolidge
Producers: Will Parker, Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez, Larry Brezner
Executive producers: Nicholas Stern, Ron Muhammad, Scott Bernstein, Chris Bender, JC Spink
Director of photography: Mitchell Amundsen
Production designer: Chris Cornwell
Music: Christopher Lennertz
Costume designer: Olivia Miles
Editor: Peter S. Elliot
PG-13 rating, 101 minutes