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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Steve Jobs, for better or worse, made us all Internet and technology junkies. We use them for everything, up to and including making 80-minute online movies with a script entirely based off of Wikipedia entries and Google searches.
iSteve, the first full-length feature from Funny or Die, features Justin Long as Jobs himself and Jorge Garcia as Steve Wozniak. But before you go thinking this is a precursor to the upcoming Ashton Kutcher's Steve Jobs movie jObs, fair warning: iSteve's writer and director Ryan Perez (Saturday Night Live) told FastCoCreate.com they he only used Internet sources ("We couldn’t buy a paperback version of [Walter Isaacson’s] book; it’s not in our budget") and that "Almost nothing that you see that’s based on a true story feels like a true story." He added, "This movie takes a lot of dramatic license, but does it take as much dramatic license as Liz and Dick on Lifetime with Lindsay Lohan? I honestly don't know."
That doesn't mean the stars don't take their roles seriously, no matter how silly or inaccurate the source material may be. ("A turtleneck would make Steve look like he's from the future!" is something one character cries and at one point Long comes face to face with an actor who is playing Justin Long in those memorable Apple commercials). Plus, if you do know the story of Jobs and the rise of the Apple empire, you'll likely find the movie funnier than most. iSteve debuted on Funny or Die on Tuesday, April 15 (Hollywood.com's Matt Patches will have a full review later), and you can watch the whole movie, — which also features James Urbaniak as Bill Gates and Michaela Watkins as Melinda Gates — here.
More: 'iSteve' Trailer: Is Funny or Die's Steve Jobs Movie More Than Just a Spoof? Ashton Kutcher Looks Mighty Creepy as Steve Jobs Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs: Why It Could Be Great
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