In just about every one of Kevin Hart's scenes in Ride Along, there's a joke that is just aching to find its way out of the diminutive, rascally comic actor. Hart is a small-scale physical comedian — of the same ilk as Jack Black — who puts nuclear-degree energy into his facial contortions, anatomical outbursts, and the delivery of every gag in general. If only he had material that was crafted with the same energy.
Unfortunately, nothing else about Ride Along seems at all "hard at work." Not the script, which pads a lifeless story with lazy comedy, and certainly not his screen partner Ice Cube, whose only stage direction seems to be "frown, and be taller than Kevin Hart." So lifeless is Ice Cube that even his machismo-obsessed straight man bit doesn't really work. Instead of the virile and intimidating "bad cop," he comes off as a disapproving middle aged dad without much to show for his own life.
But the script pairs the wily, overzealous high school security guard and video game junkie Ben (Hart) with no-nonsense lawman James (Ice Cube) on the titular ride along, with the scrappy cop-wannabe hoping to prove to the force veteran that he's good enough to marry the latter's younger sister. In earnest, he's not. Ben never puts any respectable effort into learning the tools of the trade, insisting on employing his amateur style and controlling the radio despite his proclamations that he wants, and deserves, James' trust. And James is no saint either — he's irresponsible on crime scenes, violent with perps, and disgruntled to the point of being unable to work with anybody else on the force. These are not good police officers... of course, you'll say, this is a comedy. But where are the laughs, then?
They're not absent entirely, you just have to look for them. In a movie so focused with big, broad humor, it's the smaller comedy that actually lands best. Hart's background mutterings and fumblings, his emoticon-laden texts to girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter, whose only stage direction seems to be "smile, and never wear a full outfit of clothing"), and a bizarre repetition of the word "weird" from supporting player John Leguizamo. All good for unexpected chuckles, while jokes like Hart facing off with a pre-teen or being blown backwards into a brick wall after firing a large gun are all lazy, familiar, and flat.
Structurally, the script is a mess. Ride Along spends far too much time on set up — we get it, Hart and his soon-to-be-brother-in-law Ice Cube don't get along — and far too much time on wrap-up — there's a gigantic, dramatic warehouse shootout that, in any other movie, would be the climax, but there's plenty more to go after that — without any cohesive middle to make the movie feel like... a movie.
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Hart, who leaps at every comic opportunity like a kangaroo (wallaby would be more appropriate), is suited just right for a buddy cop comedy, but he needs something fresh with which to work — a real character, an interesting story, actually funny jokes. Even just one of these would be fine!
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The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced nominations for the 56th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards today from the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood, Calif.
As expected, the unusual suspects received the most nominations. HBO's mob drama The Sopranos led the pack with 20 nods, including a nomination for best drama. HBO's now-defunct series Sex and the City, meanwhile, was the most-nominated sitcom, with nods in 11 categories, including best comedy series.
The late John Ritter, who died Sept. 11, 2003, received a nomination for best comedy actor for 8 Simple Rules.
New shows and exclusions, however, added some excitement to an otherwise predictable slate of nominees. Most notably, NBC heavy hitters Friends and Frasier failed to receive nods for best comedy series, despite it being each show's final season. Fox's Arrested Development, however, beat out the two powerhouse sitcoms to grab a best comedy nomination.
The 56th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Garry Shandling, will be broadcast live on ABC from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Sept. 19. For a complete list of nominees, please visit Emmys.com. Nominees in the top categories follow:
Outstanding Drama Series
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Joan of Arcadia
The West Wing
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
James Spader as Alan Shore, The Practice
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, The Sopranos
Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer, 24
Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet, The West Wing
Anthony LaPaglia as Jack Malone, Without a Trace
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow, Alias
Amber Tamblyn as Joan Girardi, Joan of Arcadia
Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Edie Falco as Carmela Soprano, The Sopranos
Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg, The West Wing
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Victor Garber as Agent Jack Bristow, Alias
Brad Dourif as Doc Cochran, Deadwood
Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti, The Sopranos
Steve Buscemi as Tony Blundett, The Sopranos
John Spencer as Leo McGarry, The West Wing
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Robin Weigert as Calamity Jane, Deadwood
Tyne Daly as Maxine Gray, Judging Amy
Drea de Matteo as Adriana La Cerva, The Sopranos
Janel Moloney as Donna Moss, The West Wing
Stockard Channing as Dr. Abigail Bartlet, The West Wing
Outstanding Comedy Series
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Everybody Loves Raymond
Sex and the City
Will & Grace
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Larry David as Himself, Curb Your Enthusiasm
John Ritter as Paul Hennessy, 8 Simple Rules
Kelsey Grammer as Frasier Crane, Frasier
Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Friends
Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk, Monk
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Patricia Heaton as Debra Barone, Everybody Loves Raymond
Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Friends
Bonnie Hunt as Bonnie Malloy, Life with Bonnie
Jane Kaczmarek as Lois, Malcolm in the Middle
Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Jeffrey Tambor as George Bluth, Sr., Arrested Development
Brad Garrett as Robert Barone, Everybody Loves Raymond
Peter Boyle as Frank Barone, Everybody Loves Raymond
David Hyde Pierce as Niles Crane, Frasier
Sean Hayes as Jack, Will & Grace
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Doris Roberts as Marie Barone, Everybody Loves Raymond
Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones, Sex and the City
Kristin Davis as Charlotte York, Sex and the City
Cynthia Nixon as Miranda Hobbes, Sex and the City
Megan Mullally as Karen, Will & Grace
Singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow has canceled her Aug. 6 concert at the Turtle Creek Casino in Williamsburg, Mich., after undergoing a surgical procedure, The Associated Press reports. The William Morris Agency, which represents Crow, said that she had "an unavoidable medical condition that required surgery." Crow is currently resting at home and is expected to recover within two weeks.
Judging Amy costar Tyne Daly's, who plays Maxine Gray on the show, could return to the set Friday after she injured her back falling in Paris. In her absence, USA Today reports, CBS shot two episodes without referencing her character. The network has apparently offered to negotiate with Daly, if she returns to work.
Richard Pryor will be honored by a multiple sclerosis group with a comedy festival and a luncheon in his hometown of Peroia, Ill. Promoter Marc Porch told AP that even though the actor would probably not attend, he would be there "in voice and in video." Besides recognizing Pryor, the event also will inform people about the disease. Pryor announced he had multiple sclerosis in 1991 and now spends most of his time at his home in California. The luncheon is set for Sept. 14 at the Bradley University Student Center.
Could actor John Cusack could be the next president of the United States? A group of young Democrats launched an Internet presidential campaign for the actor on Wednesday, Reuters reports. The political Web site, www.junction-city.com, promotes the activities of a number of progressive organizations ranging from women's rights groups to opposing drilling the oil in the Arctic. Cusack did not comment on the campaign because he is on vacation and is not reachable, his publicist said.
A mural drawn by a Baptist youth group depicting Elvis Presley--surrounded by a cross, a menorah and the Star of David--has been painted over because the religious symbols raised questions as to whether the painting was appropriate for public property, AP reports. The artwork was located above the stage of the city's amphitheater where Presley first performed. Scott Banbury, spokesman for the Save Our Shell civic group, which maintains the amphitheater, said the mural was painted over Monday after city leaders complained about it.
Tiffani Thiessen will star in three episodes of the NBC sitcom Just Shoot Me. Thiessen will play a new sex columnist for the series' fictional Blush magazine, Reuters reports. Thiessen, known for her Saturday morning show Saved by the Bell and for playing Valerie on Beverly Hills, 90210, has focused on comic roles in recent years.
Cable network TNT is planning to produce a four-hour miniseries based on the Stephen King's vampire novel Salem's Lot. The book was previously adapted into a TV movie in 1979 starring David Soul and James Mason. Producer Mark Wolper wants the remake to "terrify today's audience" as much as the TV movie frightened him, he told AP. Screenwriter Peter Filardi, who wrote The Craft, has been hired to write the new script. No word yet when the movie will air.
John Mellencamp is tired of playing amphitheaters. According to Launch.com, the singer said during his last tour that he would no longer play at venues owned and/or operated by SFX, the musical-industry conglomerate he has been critical of in recent years. "A lot of the stuff that I believed in the '80s and early '90s just didn't seem to matter to anybody," he said. "I'm not gonna sit there and do what Pearl Jam tried to do. It's stupid, cause--you know, OK, noble cause, guys--at the end of the day, it ruined their career." Mellencamp has finished working on his new album, Cuttin' Heads, due out this fall.
Former President Bill Clinton is teaming up with Grammy-winning record producer and singer Babyface to fight AIDS in Africa through a new fund-raising and educational initiative. Peter Paris, a spokesman for the International AIDS in African communities, told AP that Babyface hoped to raise money to fight the disease by staging concerts and producing a CD.
According to a study conducted by the Parents Television Council in Washington, D.C., television has become more violent over the past two years, with more swearing and violence during the family hour. The number of swear words rose by 78 percent and violence was shown on average 2.8 times per hour, a 70 percent increase, Reuters reports. Among the networks, UPN was the biggest offender, with 18.1 incidents of offense per hour, followed by NBC at 9.1 and Fox with 7.8. As far as violence goes, UPN had three times as much as the WB. NBC got the highest average for sexual material with 5.7 per hour, followed by ABC with an average of 4.8 per hour.