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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While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
The much touted New York premiere of Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones will close the Tribeca Film Festival in lower Manhattan on May 12. According to Variety, Star Wars writer and director George Lucas has teamed up with the Tribeca Film Festival and the Children's Aid Society to co-host the New York premiere of the film, which open in theaters May 16. There will be a morning screening for children and families affected by Sept. 11, another for youngsters from the Children's Aid Society and a third in the afternoon to benefit the Children's Aid Society. Tickets for the afternoon screening are $500 each. Lucas told Variety, "As a father and filmmaker, it's my pleasure to offer the film in support of the children of New York City." Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones will also premiere May 12 in 10 other cities in the United States and Canada.
Five days after giving birth by caesarian in London's private Portland hospital, new mom Elizabeth Hurley has reportedly started playing house with friend Elton John. Hurley, 36, is said to be staying at the singer's 37-acre house in Old Windsor while she recovers. Sky News also reports that Hurley has asked John to be the baby Damian's godfather, but the story adds that neither side would confirm the reports.
Hunk George Clooney has reportedly dumped his Canadian girlfriend, actress Maria Bertrand, for former porn star Krista Allen. According to Sky News, Clooney threw a birthday party for Allen at a Los Angeles restaurant last week. Allen played Jenna on the Baywatch TV series and in the 1994 Emmanuelle adult entertainment series, she showed a group of aliens the art of making love. If you liked this series, we also recommend Beach Babes from Beyond.
Actor/rapper Will Smith and his brother, Michael Peck, are working on a proposal to build a 500-room minority-owned hotel in Broward County, Fla., The Associated Press reports. The project has been stalled since the county cut its ties with the hotel's developer, but Smith and Peck's firm, Treyball Developments, could to take over the project without any money from the county. Treyball Developments was also involved with a hotel project in Smith's hometown of Philadelphia.
Actress Nona Gaye, who starred alongside Will Smith in Ali, will portray the character Zee in the Matrix sequel The Matrix Reloaded, Variety reports. Late singer/actress Aaliyah, who was killed in a plane crash last August, had originally been cast in the role. Zee's character will be introduced in the second film and will segue into the third installment, The Matrix Revolutions. Gaye, the daughter of Marvin Gaye, will begin shooting in Sydney, Australia, next week, joining stars Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne.
Mark Wahlberg will be starring in a remake of the 1969 caper The Italian Job by director F. Gary Gray. While the original picture centered on a gold heist set entirely in Europe, the modern version will begin in Italy with the robbery taking place in Los Angeles. According to Variety, Wahlberg will play career criminal Charlie Croker, who masterminds the robbery by creating L.A.'s largest traffic jam. Shooting begins Aug. 3 at Paramount Pictures.
NBC has pulled out the big guns in the brutal battle for Nielsen's May ratings sweeps and the 2001-02 season crown. The network confirmed that it will air its two-hour reunion special The Cosby Show: A Look Back from 9 to 11 p.m. on May 19, Variety reports. The show will be up against Fox's two-hour The X-Files series finale, ABC's The Practice two-hour season ender and CBS' three-hour wrap of Survivor: Marquesas. Nielsen's sweeps numbers help local affiliates set ad rates for the next few months, compelling networks to schedule their biggest programs during the November, February and May sweeps.
Tricon Global Restaurants Inc., who own the Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell restaurant chains, is the latest to follow the lead of Burger King and Office Depot and pull ads from FX's cop show The Shield. The show's lead character is a corrupt Los Angeles detective who plays as dirty as the crooks, drug dealers and murderers he busts. The show has been criticized for its vulgarity.
A controversial exhibit featuring nude paintings of Madonna was unveiled Wednesday at the Maclaurin Art Gallery, a small gallery in Scotland. Artist Peter Howson's new collection features 10 portraits of Madonna, some of them of the pop icon in the nude. Although Madonna is a fan of Howson's and previously posed for the artist clothed, these works are drawn from the artists' imagination. Howson told the BBC he was disappointed that Madonna had not given him her reaction to the paintings.
Grammy-winning rapper Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, has settled a lawsuit brought against him by John Guerra, the man he allegedly assaulted for kissing his former wife Kimberly Mathers. The incident took place outside the Hot Rock Sports Bar and Music Café in Warren, Mich., in June 2000. Although neither party has admitted to any liability or wrongdoing in the settlement, both agreed that Eminem would pay Guerra $100,000 minus attorney's fees rather than take the case to trial.
Celine Dion announced she is moving to Belgium for three months to rehearse for her to the stage next year, the AP reports. In an interview on a Belgian television show, Dion said that she had found a house in La Louviere, a gritty steel town located 30 miles south of Brussels. The 33-year-old Canadian singer is set to begin appearing at Caesar' Palace's new 4,000-seat coliseum theater in Las Vegas in March 2003, and her show is scheduled to run at least three years.
VH1's annual Divas concert is moving from New York to Las Vegas, the AP reports. The concert will air live from the MGM Grand on May 23, with proceeds going to VH1's Save the Music Foundation. This year's headliners include Mary J. Blige, Celine Dion and Cher, who have performed in past Divas concerts. More performers will be announced later.
Producer and writer Louis "Deke" Heyward died April 3 of complications from pneumonia at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at the age of 81, Variety reports. Heyward wrote more than 50 motion pictures, 3,000 radio shows and a slew of television programs and novels. In 1977, Heyward won an Emmy for the television movie The Gathering and launched the television game shows Twenty-One and Tic Tac Dough. After a career that spanned more than half a century, Heyward spent his later years teaching writing and working with underprivileged children at Camp Kilpatrick in Malibu, Calif. He is survived by his wife Sandra, two children and five grandchildren.