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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It's the biggest night in television. But will it be the most surprising one? Turns out, not quite. Though there were a few shockers during Sunday's 64th annual Emmy Awards — for instance, Homeland's Damian Lewis wins over Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston — ABC's Modern Family was, per usual, the belle of the ball with four Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy series. Other big winners of the evening? Showtime's Homeland — which also picked up four wins, including Outstanding Drama — HBO's Game Change — which won four awards, including Best Miniseries or Movie — and Louis C.K., who won Outstanding Writing for his FX darling Louie and Outstanding Writing in a Variety, Music, or Comedy Special for Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theater.
Who else walked home with a gold statue? See the complete winners list below and be sure to check out our Emmys hub for all breaking news, interviews, and features surrounding the 2012 Emmys!
Outstanding Drama Series
Game of Thrones
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Ed O'Neill, Modern Family Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family Ty Burrell, Modern Family Winner: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live Max Greenfield, New Girl
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Winner: Louis C.K., Louie
Lena Dunham, Girls
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Michael Schur, Parks and Recreation
Chris McKenna, Community
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
Winner: Steve Levitan, Modern Family
Robert B. Weide, Curb Your Enthusiasm Lena Dunham, Girls Louis C.K., Duckling Jason Winer, Modern Family Jake Kasdan, New Girl
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie Winner: Julie Bowen, Modern Family Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live Sofia Vergara, Modern Family Kathryn Joosten, Desperate Housewives
Outstanding Comedy Series The Big Bang Theory Curb Your Enthusiasm Girls Winner: Modern Family 30 Rock Veep
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Zooey Deschanel, New Girl Lena Dunham, Girls Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie Tina Fey, 30 Rock Winner: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock Don Cheadle, House of Lies Louis C.K., Louie Winner: Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Outstanding Made for TV Movie/Miniseries American Horror Story Winner: Game Change Hatfields & McCoys Hemingway and Gellhorn Luther Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia
Leading Actor in a Made for TV Movie/Miniseries Woody Harrelson, Game Change Clive Owen, Hemingway & Gellhorn Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia Idris Elba, Luther Winner: Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys Bill Paxton, Hatfields & McCoys
Lead Actress in a Made for TV Movie/Miniseries Winner: Julianne Moore, Game Change Connie Britton, American Horror Story Nicole Kidman, Hemingway & Gellhorn Emma Thompson, The Song of Lunch Ashley Judd, Missing Outstanding Reality-Competition Program Winner: The Amazing Race Dancing With the Stars Project Runway So You Think You Can Dance Top Chef The Voice Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program Winner: Tom Bergeron, Dancing With The Stars Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race Ryan Seacrest, American Idol Betty White, Betty White's Off Their Rockers Outstanding Reality Program Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution MythBusters Antiques Roadshow Shark Tank Winner: Undercover Boss Who Do You Think You Are? Outstanding Nonfiction Series American Masters Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Inside The Actors Studio The Weight Of The Nation Winner: Frozen Planet
Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series The Colbert Report Winner: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Jimmy Kimmel Live! Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Real Time with Bill Maher Saturday Night Live Outstanding Variety Special Betty White's 90th Birthday: A Tribute To America's Golden Girl Kathy Griffin: Tired Hooker
Winner: The Kennedy Center Honors Mel Brooks And Dick Cavett Together Again Tony Bennett: Duets II (Great Performances)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Winner: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey Jim Carter, Downton Abbey Jared Harris, Mad Men Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad Winner: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey Joanna Froggatt, Downton Abbey Christina Hendricks, Mad Men Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie Sarah Paulson, Game Change Frances Conroy, American Horror Story Winner: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story Judy Davis, Page Eight Mare Winningham, Hatfields & McCoys Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie Ed Harris, Game Change Denis O'Hare, American Horror Story David Strathairn, Hemingway & Gellhorn Martin Freeman, Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia Winner: Tom Berenger, Hatfields & McCoys Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Dot-Marie Jones, Glee Maya Rudolph, Saturday Night Live Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live Elizabeth Banks, 30 Rock Margaret Cho, 30 Rock Winner: Kathy Bates, Two and a Half Men Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Michael J. Fox, Curb Your Enthusiasm Greg Kinnear, Modern Family Bobby Cannavale, Nurse Jackie Winner: Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live Will Arnett, 30 Rock Jon Hamm, 30 Rock Guest Actress in a Drama Series Winner: Martha Plimpton, The Good Wife Loretta Devine, Grey's Anatomy Jean Smart, Harry's Law Julia Ormond, Mad Men Joan Cusack, Shameless Uma Thurman, Smash Guest Actor in a Drama Series Mark Margolis, Breaking Bad Dylan Baker, The Good Wife Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife Winner: Jeremy Davies, Justified Ben Feldman, Mad Men Jason Ritter, Parenthood Outstanding Animated Program American Dad Bob's Burgers Futurama Winner: The Penguins Of Madagascar: The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole The Simpsons Outstanding Children's Program Degrassi Good Luck Charlie iCarly Victorious Winner: Wizards Of Waverly Place
Writing for a Drama Series
Winner: Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff, Homeland
Directing for a Drama Series
Winner: Tim Van Patten, Boardwalk Empire
Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad
Brian Percival, Downton Abbey
Phil Abraham, Mad Men
Michael Cuesta, Homeland
Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Winner: Damian Lewis, Homeland
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Winner: Claire Danes, Homeland
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Kathy Bates, Harry's Law
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Glenn Close, Damages
Writing for a Variety Special
Winner: Louis C.K., Louis C.K. Live At The Beacon Theatre
Dave Boone, Written by; Paul Greenberg, 65th Annual Tony Awards George Stevens, Jr., Written by; Michael M. Stevens, Written by; Sara Lukinson, Written by; Lewis Friedman, The Kennedy Center Honors
Jon Macks, Written by; Dave Boone, Written by; Carol Leifer, Written by; Tim Carvell, Special Material Written by; Jeff Cesario, Special Material Written by; Billy Crystal, Special Material Written by; Ed Driscoll, Special Material Written by; Billy Martin, Special Material Written by; Ben Schwartz, Special Material Written by; Marc Shaiman, Special Material Written by; Eric Stangel, Special Material Written by; Justin Stangel, Special Material Written by; David Steinberg, Special Material Written by; Mason Steinberg, Special Material Written by; Colleen Werthmann, 84th Annual Academy Awards
Jon Macks, Written by; Steve Ridgeway, Written by; Mason Steinberg, Written by; Brad Lachman, Betty White's 90th Birthday: A Tribute To America's Golden Girl
Directing for a Variety Special
Don Mischer, 84th Annual Academy Awards Louis J. Horvitz, The 54th Annual Grammy Awards Louis C.K, Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre Alan Skog, New York City Ballet George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (Live From Lincoln Center) Winner: Glenn Weiss, 65th Annual Tony Awards
Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Dramatic Special
Winner: Danny Strong, Game Change
Ted Mann, Ronald Parker & Bill
Abi Morgan, The Hour
Neil Cross, Luther
Steven Moffat, Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia
Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Dramatic Special
Winner: Jay Roach, Game Change
Philip Kaufman, Hemmingway & Gellhorn
Paul McGuigan, Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia
Kevin Reynolds, Hatfields & McCoys
Sam Miller, Luther
[Photo Credit: ABC]
Emmys Idle Threats: Give Steve Buscemi an Emmy or I'll Waste Away with Whiskey
Emmy Idle Threats: Give 'Game of Thrones' Emmy Gold or I'll Give (?) a Crown of Gold
Emmys Idle Threats: Give Lena Dunham an Emmy or Chris O'Dowd Will Yell at You
At the moment there are few greater clichés in the media than the freaking out single woman on the cusp of 30. Of course clichés are clichés for a reason worth exploring even through the lens of just one or two women as in Lola Versus. Unfortunately while the intention behind Lola Versus isn't that we should all be happily married by the age of 30 it still fits into the same rubric of all those "Why You're Not Married" books.
Lola (Greta Gerwig) has a gorgeous fiancé Luke (Joel Kinnaman) and they live in a giant loft together the kind of dreamy NYC real estate that seems to exist primarily in the movies. Just as they're planning their gluten-free wedding cake with a non-GMO rice milk-based frosting Luke dumps her. It's cruelly sudden — although Luke isn't a cruel man. Lola finds little comfort in the acerbic wit of her best friend the eternally single Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones) who is probably delighted to see her perfectly blonde best friend taken down a peg and into the murky world of New York coupling. Lola and Luke share a best friend Henry (Hamish Linklater) a messy-haired rumpled sweetheart who is kind and safe and the inevitable shelter for Lola's fallout. Her parents well-meaning and well-to-do hippie types feed her kombucha and try to figure out their iPads and give her irrelevant advice.
Lola Versus is slippery. Its tone careens between broad TV comedy and earnest dramedy almost as if Alice is in charge of the dirty zingers and Lola's job is to make supposedly introspective statements. Alice's vulgar non-sequiturs are tossed off without much relish and Lola's dialogue comes off too often as expository and plaintive. We don't need Lola to tell Henry "I'm vulnerable I'm not myself I'm easily persuaded" or "I'm slutty but I'm a good person!" (Which is by the way an asinine statement to make. One might even say she's not even that "slutty " she's just making dumb decisions that hurt those around her just as much as she's hurting herself.)
We know that she's a mess — that's the point of the story! It's not so much that a particularly acerbic woman wouldn't say to her best friend "Find your spirit animal and ride it until its d**k falls off " but that she wouldn't say it in the context of this movie. It's from some other movie over there one where everyone is as snarky and bitter as Alice. You can't have your black-hearted comedy and your introspective yoga classes. Is it really a stride forward for feminism that the clueless single woman has taken the place of the stoner man-child in media today? When Lola tells Luke "I'm taken by myself. I've gotta just do me for a while " it's true. But it doesn't sound true and it doesn't feel true.
In one scene Lola stumbles on the sidewalk and falls to the ground. No one asks her if she's okay or needs help; she simply gets up on her own and goes on her way. It's a moment that has happened to so many people. It's humiliating and so very public but of course you just gotta pick yourself up and get where you're going. In this movie it's a head-smackingly obvious metaphor. In one of the biggest missteps of the movie Jay Pharoah plays a bartender that makes the occasional joke while Lola is waiting tables at her mom's restaurant. His big line at the end is "And I'm your friend who's black!" It would have been better to leave his entire character on the cutting room floor than attempt such a half-hearted wink at the audience.
Lister-Jones and director Daryl Wein co-wrote the screenplay for Lola Versus as they did with 2009's Breaking Upwards. Both films deal with the ins and outs of their own romantic relationship in one way or another. Breaking Upwards a micro-budget indie about a rough patch in their relationship was much more successful in tone and direction. Lola Versus has its seeds in Lister-Jones' experience as a single woman in New York and is a little bit farther removed from their experiences. Lola Versus feels like a wasted opportunity. Relatively speaking there are so few movies getting made with a female writer or co-writer that it almost feels like a betrayal to see such a tone-deaf portrayal of women onscreen. What makes it even more disappointing is how smart and likable everyone involved is and knowing that they could have made a better movie.