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Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Atlanta's finest meets platinum level video player

Ride Along

Plot Overview

A cabal of crooks is about to hit the big time (“You are the man!”) when they develop a source for pris­tine pass­ports (“This guy can make any­thing.”) A dis­agree­ment ensues when one of the "bad guys" (Ice Cube) tries to get a mysterious Omar to person­ally appear to bless them—nobody has ever seen him. He was asking too much (“You're crazy, bro.”) But he has his reasons (“Yeah, I'm crazy, but in a good way.”) Their cover gets blown (“They're cops!”) and a car chase follows, with lots of property damage. Their boss at Atlanta PD is not so happy with James Payton's (Ice Cube's) bust. “We all want Omar,” he tells him, “but these guys are a waste of time.” He's been after Omar for two years with no results.

Meanwhile, James's sister Angela (luscious Tika Sumpter) has problems getting her live-in boy­friend Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) to follow through on some simple errands. He explains, “Right now I'm in a black bag op.” He's addicted to video games when he's not working as a security guard at a local high school. Ben has been pressuring Angela to marry him, but he doesn't meet James's approval whose sister “need[s] him to be on board.” Ben had made a bad impression on the brother at a BBQ (“He's still upset 'cause I set him on fire.”)

Ben's luck seems about to change when he's accepted into the police academy (“I got in!”) Now that he's about to become a real cop (“I'm in the academy”) he begs the brother: “I was wondering if I could get your blessing to ask Angela to marry me.” James's answer: “Tomorrow I'm gonna take you on a ride along,” this to show him he doesn't have what it takes (“I am so ready for this”) on the “real deal, the hard gritty streets.”

Pray for ATLJames has Ben sign a “waiver so you don't sue the city.” He asks dispatch to send him all the 126's (“You want 126's?” ¶“Yep, the more annoying the better.”) His buddies by pre­arrange­ment set up these “annoying situations” that James sends Ben into clue­less, until “this owner right here [who] is always crying wolf” has the wolf actually show up (“This ain't no joke. This is the real deal.”) Ben who is onto James by now proceeds to handle it with confidence until it dawns on him, “Oh Jesus, this is real!” If they survive that one, and if some of Ben's inad­vertent clues pan out leading them to Omar, James may find him­self in deep doo-doo with inadequate backup to thwart a major conspiracy, and the audience better start praying for Atlanta.


A lot of name calling goes on, and it follows a pattern: something from the political sphere now trans­formed into art. Civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) had once complained: “when your first name becomes ‘nigger’ and your middle name becomes ‘boy’ (how­ever old you are) and your last name becomes ‘John’, and when your wife and mother are never given the respected title ‘Mrs’.” In this movie Ben is called: Sniper—on his T-shirt—, soldier, Black Hammer—his video game name—, nigger (“Nigger, don't play with me”), and Omar. In a poetic sense, Sniper, soldier, Hammer, nigger, and Omar all rhyme taking the sting out of any of them. For that matter nigger derives from a French word nègre meaning black, so Ben's oft repeated and preferred nom de (video) guerre being Black Hammer, he's not too concerned with distancing him­self from nigger.

Boy is not even a slur, ref. Stuart Woods, “Tucker did not blink at the ‘boy,’ knowing that white southerners used it liberally among themselves and that it wasn't necessarily a racial slur” (401). In “Ride Along” at a firing range named Jr.'s Guns, Ben the “newbie” is chided because, “You play a little punk video game.” Being called a jr. punk newbie is more degrading than being called boy in the southern sense, but Ben the “rookie” takes it in stride. Further­more, MLK's very name ends in Jr. irres­pec­tive of his age.

As for John, what's wrong with that? In the plot Ben becomes a faceless johnny when he goes undercover, he's a Johnny-come-lately riding along with James, and then he's Johnny-on-the-spot when providing needed backup. MLK's griping is, to borrow some legalese from Steve Martini, that “He complains [with] more whining … than John McEnroe” (269).

As for “the respected title Mrs,” Ben tells Angela, “You do know that you're gonna be Mrs. Black Hammer.” The Mrs title goes on her legal name, not on some video name. If the respected title can hang out there on the video name, then the legal name of a mother or wife can be respected with­out the Mrs attached. In an artistic way this movie defuses a political message.

The name of choice Ben uses, again and again, is Black Hammer, and early on he endows it with a sexual dimension telling Angela what he's going to do with her in bed—with a little more infor­mation than we care to hear. The movie follows through with multiple phallic symbols: a motor­cycle that eventually becomes ten hogs, a weenie car that gets upgraded (“Get me another car”) to a muscle car, an increase in balls (“You thought I was crazy. No, baby, I'm nuts”), a reference to Ben “about a chromo­some away from being a midget” being well endowed as midgets are reputed to be, the masculine sexual character­istics of a female biker, and at the firing range, Ben exchanges a Glock for a shot­gun with a heavy kick. In a literary artistic sense, we're given meta­phors for penis enlarge­ment.

Add to this Ben's mentions of his gift of total recall, and we might start asking ourselves what the rest of us are for­get­ting. In my review of the recently released “Noah,” I discuss the—forgotten by now—incident where Noah forbade sex on the ark in order to curtail a popu­lation explosion. Every­one followed his dictum except his son Ham, the rooster and the dog. In “Ride Along” we don't see a rooster or hear a cock crow, but Ben does get his wake up call (“Even soldiers have to get to work on time”), and we don't see a dog, but Ben worries about the neighbor's mutt in the BBQ incident, and his­toric­ally it was Ham's descen­dants who popu­lated Africa—think African American. Ham's punish­ment for being so lust­ful was to have his penis enlarged.

Going back to the firing range, let's rearrange its letters, and Firing range becomes F rain nigger. The world in Noah's day was so wicked it received an ‘F’ grade, so God sent a flood of rain, and on Noah's ark we have Ham the black hammer. Or we can rearrange the title ride along to spell niger load, what the ark carried. This primary sexual characteristic may or may not be extrap­olated, i.e. from Martini, “Profiling … is based on a singular observation, that the way any activity is carried out, the way that it's performed, will tell you a great deal about the person who performs it” (214). The movie "In the Heat of the Night" explores another Negroid char­acter­is­tic: the puffy lip.

Ben later qualifies his request for James's blessing by saying that blessings as such were a feature of the olden days. In fact Noah blessed his sons with, (Gen. 9:24–27) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Ham (Ham's son?) had further sexual misadventure so Ham's son Canaan was slated for servitude, Ham's sons settling in Africa, while Noah blessed his other two sons. In “Noah” we see but a fore­shadowing of segregation. Segregation was what MLK preached against on account of it being a law of man, not of God, but in “Noah” God trusted Noah's judgment in matters of settling the cleansed world, i.e. (Wisdom 14:6) “For in the old time also, when the proud giants perished, the hope of the world [Noah] governed by thy hand escaped in a weak vessel [ark], and left to all ages a seed of generation.”

We may need to reconsider our icon, as Kinky Friedman writes, (205, 209)

Martin Luther King was given to fooling around a bit, apparently, in his extra­marital area. So the [FBI] pursued him relentlessly and got his whole life on tape. They'd bug his hotel rooms when he was on the road and come up with some gem like: “Oh, Martin, your dick is so big!” Then they'd call his wife and play the tape into the phone.

The whole world remembers Martin Luther King for “I have a Dream.” Only J. Edgar Hoover and his pathetic acolytes would remember him for “Oh, Martin, your dick is so big!”

Here we get into memory, and what is forgotten, or what we choose to forget of a media darling. Perhaps more apropos is the saying, “People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.”

Production Values

“Ride Along” (2014) was directed by Tim Story who with Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi wrote its screen­play. It stars Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, and Tika Sumpter. Their delivery was pretty much in-your-face all the way through, enough to seem obnoxious, but then I had a good feeling when the movie was over, so I can­not be too harsh with them.

It's rated PG–13 for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong language. It's 99 minutes long. It's set in urban Atlanta. The name of the high school, High­lands, might be an allusion to where Noah's ark rested in the allegorical thread of this movie. The music seemed to enhance the plot okay.

Review Conclusion w/ Consumer Recommendation

I thought the plot was kind of stupid, and the dialogue too bombastic for my taste. Never­the­less, there were a lot of cute incidents to keep me engaged, and some worthy action shots. The scheme of bringing a flunky along on a ride along to show him he'll never make it as a fellow cop, let alone a brother-in-law, was doomed to failure. Police­men form intense bonds with their partners whom they depend on for their lives, and how­ever awful this guy may seem to the cop, add a little danger with mutual dependence, and they're bound to bond. Even predicting the end, though, I was able to stay enthralled, so I'll give it a solid ‘C’.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick.

Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years.

Special effects: Well done special effects.

Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day.

Overall product rating: three stars out of five.

Suspense: A few suspenseful moments.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Apocryphal scripture taken from The Septuagint with Apoc­rypha: Greek and English. U.S.A.: Hendrick­son Pub. Originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851. Print, WEB.

Friedman, Kinky. The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Print.

King Jr., Martin Luther. Letter From Birmingham Jail. 1963. Print.

Martini, Steve. Prime Witness. New York: Jove Books, 1994. Print.

Woods, Stuart. Chiefs. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1981. Print.