Monday, January 27, 2014
Ride Along 
TheSource (JP Tarpav) review
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review
RE.com (G. Kenny) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review
Ride Along  (directed by Tim Story, screenplay by Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, story by Greg Coolidge) is an African-American cop/buddy comedy/romcom that like most romcoms of our time, would almost certainly not altogether please the good preachers of the African American community or people of faith of any color. Indeed, "romcoms" are generally among the most morally problematic genres of cinema or stagecraft today even if they are so "with a smile."
So "what's the problem" here? Well, the central couple in the story -- Ben Barber (played by Kevin Hart) and Angela Payton (played by Tika Sumpter) -- ARE LIVING TOGETHER without being married. "So? Why should that make a difference?" one may ask. But the question could be reversed: Why ARE they LIVING TOGETHER WITHOUT BEING MARRIED? What's the fear? What's the problem? And what's the plan if as a consequence of their living (and sleeping) together they produce a child together?
And it should be noted here folks that there is actually ONE recent romcom, Jumping the Broom  about a couple that's preparing for marriage that ISN'T already living/sleeping together prior to marriage. YES, EVEN IN HOLLYWOOD SUCH A STORY "IS POSSIBLE" and IT DOESN'T SURPRISE ME _AT ALL_ THAT _THAT MOVIE_ COMES FROM THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY, a community of _churchgoing folks_ after all.
But let's return to the story at hand... ;-). THERE IS, INDEED, "A PROBLEM" between BEN and ANGELA: There seems to be a question of Ben's worthiness of marrying Angela. SHE actually seems to be the most "okay" with her choice of Ben as her partner/future husband. But BEN HIMSELF, working as a security guard at a local high school, doesn't seem to feel worthy of her. And Angela's brother, James Payton (played by Ice Cube) a hard-nosed Atlanta Police Officer definitely doesn't think that the softer, more fun-loving Ben is worthy of her.
Trying to prove his worth to both Angela (who doesn't need to be convinced) and her brother James (who does), Ben applies to the Atlanta Police Academy and ... gets in.
James, so tough that he can't seem to work with ANYBODY even in his own department, is still not convinced that Ben will make the grade. And so, he offers to take Ben along with him on a "RIDE ALONG" to show him what awaits him on the "mean streets" of Atlanta. The rest of the movie follows ...
Since this is a romcom afterall, "all ends well" ... Ben proves himself to his future step-brother James (and James learns a bit about humility and valuing teamwork as well).
All in all, it's not a bad romcom, it just _begins_ (from the get-go ...) with a premise that's definitely problematic from the Christian point of view, where one either decides to get married or one break-ups in search for someone else who one will marry.
"Trial marriages" are in the end for the dishonest and/or for cowards.
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