Ride AlongThough we’re well underway into this year’s awards season, and the big Oscar contenders are showing worldwide, that didn’t stop Tim Story’s buddy cop comedy Ride Along spending three consecutive weeks at the top of the American box office. Though certainly a flawed piece, you can certainly see why this production has proved to be such a popular hit, with an unrelenting, scattergun approach to jokes. With it’s tongue firmly in its cheek, it certainly makes for an entertaining trip to the cinema.

When the calamitous, aspiring police man Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) decides he wants to propose to his long-term girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter), he knows that he has to be given her older brother’ James Payton’s (Ice Cube) blessing first. The problem is, the bullish, imposing cop James, has very little time for his sister’s partner.  Allowing him the chance to prove his worth – both as a potential husband and as a police officer, James takes Ben on a ride along – effectively a day’s work experience in the law enforcement. However what is intended to be a straight-forward trip, clearing up somewhat extraneous, insignificant crimes, they inadvertently get caught up in one of the biggest investigations in Atlanta, tracking down an elusive criminal mastermind.

The film is lovingly conventional and archetypal of the genre at hand, playing up to it at times, and almost parodying it for comic effect. Both characters are complete caricatures of the good cop, bad cop notion, and while overstated, naturally, it’s well-handled, helped along by a palpable on-screen chemistry. In that respect, the film bears similarities to the The Heat, with a premise not too far removed. However where the aforementioned feature is more accomplished and certainly of a higher standard, this is undoubtedly the funnier of the two.

It helps matters that we’re delving into this world through the eyes of Hart, who is the perfect entry point. His naivety in regards to law enforcement is endearing, as he doesn’t know the first thing about it. He acts in many situations as pathetically as we would, and the way he represents the viewer is where much of the humour derives from in the piece. Hart is great in the role too, though he can be somewhat screechy at times, making noises that only a dog could hear. His co-star Ice Cube is as brilliantly deadpan as ever, as the man who co-penned Fuck Tha Police yet again plays an officer of the law with such sincerity. However sadly any such commendation cannot be extended to Sumpter – not because of her performance as such, but because she’s been dealt with a severely underwritten character, who spends all of her time at home, seemingly at her most comfortable when wearing something erotic. She’s just watching the telly, on her own, in a push up bra. I thought that was just me.

Ride Alone is ultimately one joke stretched out into feature length form, and though tedious at times, fortunately for Story, that one joke happens to be a funny one. With a sequel announced already, question marks exist over where this tale could possibly be taken, as despite the plethora of hilarious moments that are littered around for good measure, if there’s one thing this film is lacking in, it’s the director’s namesake.