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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Ice Cube lowers standards for ‘Ride Along’

Published: January 31, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc.

Ice Cube is timeless. Not in the way that his music has endured decades, though that may be true given his honest and angry portrayal of growing up African American in America in many of his rap songs. But truly, Ice Cube is timeless in the way that he does not seem to age. While the rapper/actor is now 44, in his most recent film, “Ride Along,” he appears to be about 25. He is all rough-and-tough policeman who hangs out with the boys, not someone’s middle-aged dad.

The sad thing is, Ice Cube’s remarkably un-aged body is the best part of the movie “Ride Along.” The film was released on Jan. 17, and stars both Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. A sort of cop-buddy film, Ice Cube insists on taking Hart along for a day in the life of a policeman. Hart, who also wants to be a cop, is looking to marry Ice Cube’s sister. Due to Hart’s small stature and apparent lack of manliness, Ice Cube refuses to give this engagement his blessing until Hart proves his worth. The usual antics ensue: some hilarity when Hart tries to confront a motorcycle gang, lots of waving guns and comic violence. Ice Cube constantly crosses his arms and sneers, until Hart finally gets him out of a sticky situation.

While the film is at times funny, it is mostly just predictable. It received negative reviews from critics, including a 17 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating. Yet, the studio has already stated they are pursuing a sequel—mainly because despite all odds the film is popular, topping the box office with a gross of $21.2 million.

Ice Cube also produced the film, as he continues his rather strange foray into appropriate movie-making. While “Ride Along” is rated PG-13, it is not very risqué. The website Parent Previews gives the film a D- for language (many, many swears) and a D+ for violence, but only a C+ for sexual content and a B+ for drug use. And that’s from a website created by parents.

The film is made to be funny, not moving or monumental or significant. The film and its comedic stance seem to follow Ice Cube’s other main film, “Are We There Yet?” Ice Cube began his career in the hip-hop group C.I.A., later joining the influential N.W.A. which featured the prominent Dr. Dre. While Ice Cube may look timeless, obviously his career has not been as he has been forced to change professions and focuses. And while he may have a reputation for being a funny man, his music was something worth being proud of, while “Ride Along” is not something worth paying money to see.

Kevin Hart is perhaps the better actor throughout “Ride Along,” though it is arguable that he has the better role to play. He is feisty and outspoken, and he delivers his jokes at the exact right time. Hart is known for being a standup comedian, and his career might benefit greatly if he would to star in more funny movies (though with a better plot line than this one).

While some cop-buddy films such as “The Heat” have witty and well-thought out plot-lines at their core, films like “Ride Along” rely on comic violence, stupid jokes and the hilarity of Hart’s five-foot-two frame to entertain audiences. But they remain popular because after all, the movies are a place to escape. After a long week of work, Americans are not opposed to propping themselves up in front of a mindless comedy. But be sure you watch “Ride Along” at home—it is not worth the price of a $11.25 movie ticket.