RideAlong2coverGrade: B-/B
Entire family: No
2016, 102 min., Color
Universal
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual contact, language, and some drug material
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Featured audio: DTS-HDMA 5.1
Bonus features: C
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD
Trailer
Amazon link

Most critics didn’t like Ride Along 2 as much as the 2014 original, which they also didn’t like. Then again, most critics don’t watch the films with their families, approaching each one as a night of entertainment. And my family (two adults and two teens) thought Ride Along 2, starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, was plenty entertaining.

This sequel follows the buddy cop action-comedy formula with a few nods to previous films in the genre. As with Lethal Weapon 2, Ride Along 2 tosses a non-cop third party into the mix. Instead of Joe Pesci sitting in the back seat we get comedian Ken Jeong, who plays a hacker with information about a top crime kingpin (Benjamin Bratt). And like Beverly Hills Cop and Running Scared, Ride Along 2 takes the cops out of their jurisdiction into a more exotic location, where they end up working with local law enforcement officers. In this case, Miami provides the upbeat location and an excuse for some pretty decent soundtrack music, with Olivia Munn starring as Maya, a homicide detective.

RideAlong2screenA year after the events of Ride Along, Ice Cube is still the tough Atlanta undercover detective James Payton who is still tormented by his annoying brother-in-law to be and probationary cop Ben Barber (Hart). James’ sister, Angela, loves Ben but wants him out of her hair for a while to plan the wedding, so she talks her brother into taking Ben along to Miami, where he’s following a lead on a drug case. If you’re keeping score, that makes two main characters who find Ben Barber/Kevin Hart’s non-stop chatter and high-energy enthusiasm at least partly annoying, and I’m guessing that people who don’t like Hart’s schtick will find Ride Along 2 tedious. We found it hilarious.

Ride Along 2 offers plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, some fun action scenes (the most memorable of which involves Hart’s character piloting a fork lift and creating havoc in a portside storage container area), and a plot that’s just good enough to support the banter and antics of the two stars. Meanwhile, the kids will like video game scenes and Ben’s encounter with a humongous alligator.

There isn’t much in the way of surprises, but the thing about buddy cop pictures is that the chemistry between the two stars is what matters most, and Ice Cube and Kevin Hart are fun to watch. Director Tim Story doesn’t seem to think audiences will wonder why it takes a major false bust of a local respected businessmen (ala The Naked Gun) before two cops out of their jurisdiction are finally restricted, but logic isn’t the focus: action and comedy are. Ride Along 2 is an appealing crime comedy for families with children 13 and over . . . if you don’t mind Kevin Hart and Ken Jeong screaming a lot.

Language: Two “f” bombs” (I thought PG-13 only allowed one?) and a few sporadic uses of “shit” and similar expletives
Sex: Just a quick glimpse of a woman in bra and panties and some sexual references
Violence: Yep. But it’s all crime comedy violence, nothing even as traumatic as the opening murder in Beverly Hills Cop
Adult situations: Some drinking and drug mention
Takeaway: Ride Along 2 may not be one of the best in the genre, but it’s in the same class as other buddy-cop films like 21 Jump Street and The Other Guys

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