"Ride Along" is another film in the beloved tradition of buddy cop movies. Typically, these films aren't watched for their stories, but for the chemistry of the mismatched main characters. "Ride Along" is no different, focusing on a small-time security guard and an experienced detective. The immature, wacky Ben, whose role is filled by Kevin Hart, is paired with James, an officer who has seen it all, who is played by Ice Cube. Combining the two stars was a stroke of genius. Ice Cube captures the older demographic, reeling in classic hip-hop fans. Kevin Hart, a rising comedian, brings in the younger crowd along with the laughs. Though they started out as a musician and comedian, there is no doubt that the two will have long film careers.
Ice Cube first gained national prominence with the hip-hop group N.W.A. It was widely acknowledged as one of the most influential rap influences in the world, achieving worldwide fame. After a couple of years and a falling-out over money, Ice Cube left the group to begin his solo career. With the release of his first sensational solo album, Ice Cube began his acting career. He first appeared in "Boyz in the Hood" in 1992. While continuing to produce music and even touring with Lollapalooza, Ice Cube continued to star in and direct films.
"Ride Along" is not the first film in which Ice Cube has acted alongside a comedian. Back in 1995, he and Chris Tucker made the movie "Friday," followed by two sequels. In some ways, Kevin Hart is a latter-day Chris Tucker, inspiring a new generation of comedians. In total, Ice Cube has starred or appeared in almost 30 different films over a 20-year period. At this point, Ice Cube is a brand who can attract many fans. By having his name attached to the film, moviegoers are certain to flock to the movie. His role in "Ride Along" is half of the reason to watch the comedy.
The other half of the reason for watching "Ride Along" is the insanely funny Kevin Hart, whose career is at a white-hot peak. He's a comedian who is in his prime. He got his start in comedy clubs throughout New England, beginning with his hometown of Philadelphia. As he gained fame, Kevin immediately jumped into show business. He was first cast in the hilarious Judd Apatow venture "Undeclared." From there, he took minor roles in several films and TV shows. He has starred in several stand-up specials, each one topping the last in terms of popularity and sales. His tour, "Laugh at my Pain," grossed over $15 million. Even though he has appeared in many minor parts in films, "Ride Along" is Kevin Hart's first starring role. Just like with Ice Cube, Hart is assuredly going to have a successful career in Hollywood.
Although Ice Cube and Kevin Hart seem like opposites in real life, combining the two stars was an easy decision for movie studio executives. Their differences make the buddy-cop movie enjoyable and much more interesting. Ice Cube has a reputation as a grizzled gangster, while Kevin Hart is seen as lovable and cuddly, partly due to his stature. Kevin is only 5 feet 4 inches and makes numerous jokes in his routine about his height. Both actors bring in a unique base of fans. Ice Cube appeals to audiences in their 40s and 50s who grew up listening to his music in the '80s and '90s. Kevin Hart's fans are much younger, usually 20- and 30-somethings. Besides age, Hart's supporters are more technologically savvy, spreading the word about his projects through social media and garnering a bigger audience. With the two actors starring in the same movie, the studio gets a film that a larger demographic is interested in seeing.
Though critic reviews have been mixed for "Ride Along," there is widespread praise for the performances of Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. Even in unfavorable reviews, critics acknowledge that the movie is enjoyable whenever the pair is on the screen. Fans simply cannot get enough of Hart's jokes and Ice Cube's persona, transforming the movie into something special. Most importantly to the studio, "Ride Along" is a box office success. It had the biggest opening of any movie ever released in January, raking in over $40 million during its debut weekend. With their financial and artistic success, moviegoers will be seeing more of Ice Cube and Kevin Hart on the big screen. It may be odd that a rapper and comedian are starring in a big-budget movie together, but given their backgrounds, the pairing of Ice Cube and Kevin Hart in "Ride Along" makes perfect sense.