I went into “Ride Along 2” with an open mind.
This was accomplished by trying to remember what happened in the first “Ride Along” and realizing that I could remember almost nothing about the movie that opened on the same holiday weekend two years ago and became a $134 million hit.
There were images that flashed in my brain of comedic actor Kevin Hart talking too fast. Of Hart and Ice Cube arguing. Of Cube being cranky and Hart being silly.
And that is all you need to know about “Ride Along 2” — and to know that it’s all amped up sequel-style — before attending the movie that will finally topple “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” from the No. 1 spot at the box office.
It’s a buddy-cop comedy, with James (Cube) the experienced detective with a no-nonsense attitude and Ben (Hart), a security guard in the first movie, now a rookie cop in his probationary period who’s about to marry James’ beautiful sister.
There’s some other stuff about these Atlanta cops looking to prevent drug shipments arriving from Miami, where they must go to stop a highly respected businessman who’s actually a murderous drug lord (Benjamin Bratt).
But it doesn’t matter.
The story doesn’t matter. I can only imagine that in “Ride Along 3” these Atlanta cops will be working on a case that necessitates their going to Las Vegas or Hollywood or London.
Or wherever the writers think would make for a funny background for their arguing.
“It would be so funny to put little Ben inside of Big Ben,” someone would say of Hart’s character, and someone would agree, and another brainless sequel is born.
All that matters is that Hart is 5 feet, 4 inches tall, so there are many short jokes. And that Cube is mean-looking, so there are many grumpy jokes.
“It would be so funny to see where James lives and find out that Grumpy Cat is his pet,” someone would say of Cube’s character.
Not that they will make that idea funny. I base this on the first hour of “Ride Along 2,” which has no laughs. Zero.
Ben talks fast while messing up James’ undercover bust in an opening scene, which makes James mad. So they argue.
They should be arguing about the script being an Eddie Murphy rip-off from 30 years ago.
But of a quality that someone, apparently after watching “48 Hrs.” and “Beverly Hills Cop,” said: No, that’s just too smart; we’re gong for lowest common denominator dummies.
The two actors argue loudly, as if volume adds to the hilarity, and they push the profanity level as far as possible to retain a PG-13 rating.
It’s to the point that they’ve made an R-rated movie and gone back and trimmed here and there to make it barely fit PG-13. Same with the randy sexual antics that you would not want a 13-year-old to witness.
As for shooting in Miami, there are so many gratuitous bikinis at the beach and see-through dresses at parties that director Tim Story’s most frequent direction must have been: This scene needs more breasts.
As for the second hour, there’s a moment at a party that’s actually somewhat inspired for a “create a distraction while I sneak into that second-floor office” scene.
Obviously, it’s not original, but the moment is inspired.
The car chase leading up to it, employing Ben’s love of video games for effect, is fuel-injected fun; the most physical moment (Ben slaps James; James punches Ben) is so fast and unexpected that it works; Bratt and the boys’ Miami cop sidekick, played by Olivia Munn, share a sexy dance; and Ben fleeing from an alligator is a hoot.
There is a five-minute period, maybe longer, of choreographed action and hijinks in the second half that it feels like new, funny writers took over, and they continued their work into the less painful last half-hour.
It’s something to build on, a real spirit of comedy mixed with some camaraderie that doesn’t feel forced and some emotion that doesn’t seem phony.
Let’s hope that materializes for the future because these movies look like they’re going to become the “Lethal Weapon” series of this decade, thanks to moviegoers with lowered expectations.
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