Last year when I saw the trailer for Ice Cube and Kevin Hart's Ride Along, I was rather optimistic about the whole affair. The gags seemed solid enough and I figured that the two great tastes of Buddy Cop Action Comedy mixed with some good ol' cinematic Black Foolishness would taste great together. But then I actually watched the film and was thoroughly disappointed by its flat blandness. However, for whatever reason, flat blandness seems to catch on for the general movie-going public. Ride Along ended up becoming a surprisingly huge success, staying at #1 at the box office for three weeks straight and earning over $150 million worldwide during its theatrical run off of a $25 million budget. Despite mostly negative critical reception, the audience reaction and financial return were too significant to ignore, and thus we are blessed with Ride Along 2.
This time it looks like Ice Cube's Detective Payton and what appears to be Kevin Hart's newly appointed Officer Ben Barber are taking the action to Miami to take down a drug kingpin. Olivia Munn and Ken Jeong have been added to the proceedings, along with what looks like a pumped up production budget. The action and cinematography actually kinda pop a bit in this trailer, mimicking the slickness of the Bad Boys and Fast & Furious movies (I see you Tyrese!!) rather well. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised; although I didn't care for the first film, director Tim Story constructed some surprisingly well-shot action beats. I honestly think it could have really worked as a straight up cop action movie that would have just so happened to have a frenetic, wise-cracking jokester and a grizzled veteran playing off of each other.
In any event, all this time I had no clue that a sequel was even in the works. It appears that this trailer was timed specifically to be released in conjunction with the premiere of the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton. A shrewd business move indeed! Although, it does seem a little weird to promote a movie featuring Ice Cube engaging in some monkey shines right before a Deep and Dramatic movie about his life story that features some shocking police brutality. It's basically twisting around this famous meme to life:
However, after thinking on it for a bit I think it's important to understand and come to terms with the fact that Ice Cube's run as an actor in successful Black Foolishness flicks is as significant to black culture as are the messages in his music. For one thing, I see a lot of (white) critics saying stuff along the lines of "NWA had so many DEEP IMPORTANT lyrics, such a shame to go from that to this Are We There Yet family movie fluff." But I'm like, hey, how bout you appreciate the fact that it shows black people go on zany road trips, too; that ain't the sole province of the Griswolds. I grew up in the hood, too, but I never had to use my AK or smoke weed erryday. I did, however, go on several road trips to Disney World and the like with my family and experienced the great American tradition of being mortified by my parents' tacky vacation fashion choices (though my dad's Caribbean spin on the trope in the form of dusty sandals, form-fighting smedium purple polo shirt and bright plaid thigh-high shorts was uniquely brutal). That normalization/inclusivity, like I talked about in my Home review is just as important as the need to tell a specific story about our plight; we need Friday as much as we do Boyz N The Hood.
Additionally, "Fuck tha Police" was revolutionary then and still relevant now, but lionizing the past won't fix the brutality of the here and now. Like I said in a previous comment thread, I don't know why people are expecting a film about these kids from Compton to somehow enlighten the white masses and corrupt institutions to lay down their mistempered arms when not even a movie about Martin Luther Fucking King Jr. could barely make a dent in the social conversation, tear-jerking Oscar music performance and all. Niggas is still getting killed out here, despite the efforts of seeing them killed on screen in an attempt to increase social empathy to our plight. That's why I'm all about the representation on screen for all facets of our culture, not just the parts where we are beat up by cops and whipped by slave masters. Bringing that all back to this trailer, we see a diverse cast of Black and Asian main characters front and center, laying the smack down as well as bringing on the laughs. Having said all that, unless there has been some tremendous overhaul in the script/screenwriting process, I very much doubt this sequel will surpass the low bar set by the previous film. But even with all the buffoonery attached, though I might not ultimately end up digging the movie, its still something to be excited for. Ride Along 2 comes to theaters January 2016, along with extra police security to ensure the safety of the Black movie-going audience.