Just when it seems like we have seen all that Kevin Hart has to offer, one of his films comes along and we are reminded why we love him so much. In his latest film, Hart, as Ben, and Ice Cube, as James, tackle the buddy-cop genre in the vein of Beverly Hills Cop, and we see a man poised to become the next great comedian.
In Ride Along – out in theaters on Jan. 17 – Ben tries to impress his girlfriend, Angela’s (Tika Sumpter) brother, James. James is a hardened cop who is such an island that he doesn’t even have a partner; or maybe he’s just that good. James thinks that Ben, a high school security guard with dreams of becoming a police officer, is not good enough for Angela. So, he sets up a ride along designed for the security guard to fail.
Speaking with both actors at the Regal South Beach theater, the respect both men have for each other is obvious. “You know, Kevin is good. He comes off the cuff and he’s real quick,” Cube said, who is working on producing 22 Jump Street, a NWA movie with F. Gary Gray, and a new album. “I’ve worked with some witty comedians, but he’s one of the fastest. So, you’ve just got to be ready.”
Ready, Cube was, with the two finding a rhythm from the start as the man being annoyed and the annoyance. John Leguizamo, who plays Officer Santiago, and one of the film’s producers, Will Packer, seconded the duo’s great comedic timing and bro-chemistry. Thanks in part to director Tim Story who gave the actors freedom to ad lib where they saw fit, which worked very well for the production.
“Kevin would try to break Cube, but he is so stoic. Cube is always on his A game,” said Packer, who is looking forward to the 2014 releases About Last Night with Hart, Think Like a Man 2, and a thriller starring Idris Elba and Taraji Henson. “We would all be laughing and messing up takes. But, Cube held it together.”
The consummate professional, Cube was the one to bring the film’s script (written by Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay, and Matt Manfredi) to Packer, who had just finished filming Think Like a Man, in which Hart was a part of the cast. According to Packer, once Hart was on board everything moved quickly from there and everyone on set enjoyed filming the movie.
“My character is a stretch; I’m not really on that cop tip,” said Cube, about his tough cop who has no problem with police harassment. “I try to leave the characters on the screen and let them be who they are.” That also includes letting Hart doing what Hart does best: be Kevin Hart in all of his glorious antics. Those antics may or may not have included some on-screen fun, like filling up a co-star’s trailer with packing peanuts. But, that’s just a rumor.
“The movie’s about really trying to gain the respect of one person,” said Hart of the Ben and Angela relationship. “And going above and beyond to get the respect of her brother; just because.”
Ride Along is not just about great chemistry and hilarious scenes.
At its core it is about a man who has a good heart and, in the words of Hart, is passionate about three things: his fiancée, his job as a security guard/mentor, and his goal of becoming a cop. It’s also a well-written film starring two great actors with awesome chemistry.
WE HART KEVIN
It is evident that Hart is getting comfortable with his star power getting brighter. With hits like Real Husbands of Hollywood, his stand-up comedy films, and the Think Like a Man franchise, 2014 is shaping up to be the year of Kevin Hart. With Ride Along being the appetizer to the four films Hart is slated to appear in this year.
“When people are having fun making a movie, you can tell,” said Packer about Hart, Cube, “Johnny Legs” Leguizamo, and the rest of the Ride Along cast, which includes Laurence Fishburne. “They each bring something uniquely different to a film like this. But, at the end of the day, the mix really works.”
With a Ride Along 2 rumored to be in the works, this feels like the makings of a beautiful relationship between audience and filmmakers.