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.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
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!
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
S10E10: It’s the tenth episode of the tenth season of American Idol; shouldn’t we be making a wish or something? My wish would probably be that Casey Abrams makes it to the top 12, but you could wish for something more important like World Peace or the return of Steven’s “fuck a duck” phrases. Anyway, last night was a swift journey through a handful of favorites’ solo auditions and not everyone fared so well. However, by the time it came down to the cuts, many who delivered disappointing performances were ushered through based on their past performances. I understand that logic, but I think for some of these contestants, these flubs are indicative of what their future performances will hold. For now, we’ll have to deal with the judges’ choices, but we don’t have to like it, that’s for damn sure.
“We almost sent her home. Remember?” –JLo
For this round, the contestants can elect to sing a capella, with a backup band, or with their own instruments – for some people this was an issue. For the first singer of the day, Haley Reinhart, nothing seemed to hold back her voice. After screwing the pooch during the group performances, she was graciously given a second chance, that personally, I wouldn’t have allowed. However, when she took the stage, her strong, jazzy voice said it all.
Following her with equally powerful performances were Ashthon Jones with “And I’m Telling You” (which is incredibly difficult to sing) and Thia Megia with an amazing version of “What a Wonderful World.” Megia is only 15 years old, but her voice continues to amaze the judges (and me).
Then came the problem children. Some people just can’t own up to their own faults and Adrian Michael, Caleb Johnson, and Frances Coontz are some of those people. Both Adrian and Caleb flubbed their auditions then had the audacity to say that the professional musicians, who have been getting PAID to play music for years, were the ones screwing with THEIR Idol auditions. Get a grip and go home, guys.
Frances Coontz wasn’t so much an ingrate as she was off-key. They stopped her to have the band help her find it. Yikes. That’s embarrassing – but thank God someone did it because my ear drums were about to burst.
“Y’all are gonna make me cry.” –Sophia Shorai
“Well, you made us.” –Steven
Next came the traitorous (and not that incredibly talented) Clint Jun Gamboa. Okay, so technically this guy is talented, but he’s a self-important dick – maybe you forgot, but he heartlessly kicked out adorable Jacee Badeaux with only hours before auditions because “he didn’t vibe right” with the group. I call bullshit. Gamboa can hit notes properly, but the fact of the matter is he’s not likable and the tone of his voice is straight up not enjoyable. Let’s send him home already.
Gamboa sang “Georgia On My Mind” well, but two ladies came up after and showed that song a little more life. Both Kendra Chantelle and Sophia Shorai sang beautifully; no complaints here. (Maybe that’s because I don’t know about whatever selfish things they’ve done, but hey part of being a famous musician is having people know your personal business, so Gamboa can deal with it.)
“That blonde guy is crazy.” –Randy
Continuing on in the category of people who sang the same song, are former group mates Carson Higgins and Chris Medina. They both sang “My Prerogative” and Medina’s version sort of redeemed him from his frankly sad performance on group day but in my mind, he’s not strong enough to make it through to the end. Carson also gave a rousing performance; this guy is just pure fun to watch. His vocals were a little wild this time around, but to be honest, I think a lot of folks listen to music to enjoy it instead of looking for something that fulfills their technical needs.
“Am I like Neil Armstrong?” –Casey Abrams
Now we’ve got the folks who brought the music with them in the form of instruments. For some, this only heightened their appeal, but for a few it was obvious that the instrument just distracted them from their previously on-point vocals. Now, I understand it’s more difficult to play an instrument while singing, but when you have folks like Casey Abrams who waltzes in with an UPRIGHT BASS and blows everyone’s minds, it’s hard to give credit to folks like Julie Zorilla who managed to sing alright in spite of the instrument in front of them. Brett Lowenstern (love him), Caleb Hawley, Colton Dixon and his ridiculous hair, and Robbie Rosen (another one of my favorites) also benefited from the use of their instruments.
Can I just take one more second to praise Casey Abrams? The man can sing, he can play the bass, and from what Idol has shown us, he’s a pretty cool guy. If America is too stupid to vote for him (because I’m not accepting that he won’t make it to that Idol stage) then I may just throw in the towel. He’s AWESOME.
“I don’t cry.” –Jacob Lusk
“You coulda fooled me.” –Ryan
Before we get back to the good ones, we have to make a stop in coupleville. With Rob Bolin and Nick Fink sent packing, only Jaqueline Dunford and Chelsee Oaks are left. Jaqueline falls ill and has to bow out of the competition and the pressure gets to Chelsee, causing her to deliver an awful performance of “Because of You.” It was saddening to see, for sure, but she didn’t seem to have the chops last time around so I can’t say that I expected her to stick around.
On a cheerier note, Lauren Alaina took the stage for an encore of “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing.” Of course she rocked it; that voice isn’t a fluke. She’s got some serious pipes. Another one with some serious pipes was Jacob Lusk, who is an actual jazz singer. He’s incredible (meriting that standing ovation) but it’s something I’ve never seen fare well on Idol – then again, we’ve had country singers make it to the top of a mainly pop music contest, why not a bluesy singer?
Next up was unreal John Wayne Schultz (remember, the mama’s boy who had a great voice, was adorable and was named after JOHN FUCKING WAYNE?) who sand “Landslide.” It was a sleepy, enjoyable version of the song and he’s definitely talented, but I don’t know if he has the presence to captivate the people who are watching at home on their televisions.
“That’s our song, so I scream it out loud to him all the time” –Ashley Sullivan
Despite singing the song that she supposedly sings to her boyfriend all the time, Ashley Sullivan forgets the words to “Everything” multiple times before leaving the stage. They end up giving her another chance by the end of the show, but it seems that she can’t handle the stress of performing, so I’m not sure that furthering her pursuit in this industry is healthy.
Other forgetful folks included Scotty McCreery, who only seems to remember the words to that “baby lock the doors” country song, and Tatynisa Wilson who not only forgot the words but flat out sang terribly. At least Scotty accepted that he hadn’t earned the right to stay with that performance (though he had just learned the lyrics overnight) but luckily for him, he got another shot.
“This is our lives. This is it” –Stefano Langone
Finally, we have Stefano Langone, Jovany Baretto, and Jacee Badeaux. Jovany did just fine (just as we expected), Stefano was alright and Jacee was just the darling little angel that we’ve come to love. I just want to pinch his cheeks or hug him or something. He’s adorable.
“Now this is the worst part for me.” –JLo
“No, no; it’s going to be good.” –Randy
Now for the news. It turns out that favorites Jacee Badeaux, Robbie Rosen, Casey Abrams, Lauren Alaina, James Durbin, Brett Lowenstern, Scotty McCreery, Rachel Zavita, Ashley Sullivan (I’m surprised too), Carson Higgins, and Julie Zorilla were amongst those staying. Those being sent home included Chelsee Oaks, Mark Gutierrez, Brielle Von Hugel, Frances Coontz, and Corey Levoy. You may be sad, but based on what they showed us, I’m really not that surprised.
With that, Ryan finally revealed the big surprise! Guess what? It’s what we already knew! Next week, they’ll have 24 hours to learn a Beatles song and perform it in Las Vegas. Really? REALLY? Giving someone 24 hours to learn a Beatles song is like giving someone three days to learn the names of all their siblings. EVERYONE knows at least one Beatles song. How about you try something more difficult or own up to the cross promotion with the Beatles LOVE show in Vegas and stop trying to make it sound so exciting.