Ice Cube needs to cool down a bit. He must have been that kid who scowled and whose face actually stayed that way, like his grandmother had warned him. Once he loosens his implacable, Javert-esque attitude, Ride Along ends up being OK.

Of course, that's after about 80 minutes of him being the annoying tough guy, with Kevin Hart as his somehow-less-annoying-than-him sidekick.

You could do worse than Hart to make up one half of a buddy-cop pairing. He certainly has the swagger and energy to sell the broad humor, and he manages to be likable through his reams of babbling shtick. The straight man in the buddy-cop scenario is never as much fun as the wild card guy, but you wish he could have someone more interesting to play off of than Ice Cube, who revels in his role as the tough-as-nails detective who plays by his own rules and has no problem with breaking into his sister's apartment to prove a point.

Oh yeah, there's a woman in this movie, though she's pretty much the only one in it that a.) talks and b.) isn't a stripper. Played by Tika Sumpter, Angela is James' (Ice Cube) sister and Ben's (Hart) girlfriend. Ben loves first-person shooter video games and gets accepted to the police academy to impress Angela as well as James, who has trust issues.

James agrees to let Ben shadow him for a day to "prove yo-self worthy of marrying my sister," as he says to him. James sets Ben up to fail, only to need his help later on with a drug investigation run by a mysterious unseen leader. He finally becomes bearable in a funny warehouse scene that's a more exciting climax than the actual climax. But by then, the ride is pretty much over.


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Grade: C

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual content, and brief strong language.

Follow Pete McQuaid on Twitter @sweetestpete.