Kevin Hart may be the Hardest Working Little Man in Show Business. A new movie in theaters, two more due out later this year, he’s cashing in while the cash is good.
But he’s running low on funny. “Ride Along 2” is Hart’s “Steve Harvey at the Miss Universe Pageant” moment — a warning that he’s spread himself, and his screechy brand of bug-eyed humor, too thin.
Because this buddy comedy sequel, “Lethal Weapon Lite,” has barely a laugh in it. All the attention was paid to the shootouts, the car chases. As if director Tim Story expected Hart to make something funny just by raising his voice from time to time.
“Foot chase! Foot chase!”
Ice Cube shows up, always wearing sunglasses and driving a nicely pimped jet black Chrysler 300 (scene after scene, way beyond “product placement). He’s the about-to-be related by marriage “partner” (“I AIN’T ya partner!”) who drags the shrieking shrimp from Atlanta to Miami to sweat this hacker contact (Ken Jeong) about a Mr. Big (Benjamin Bratt) who is killing people to get his merchandise ashore.
The script’s driving motivation is Miami — bikini shots, bachelor partying in the club, comely lady cops (Olivia Munn). And the payoff is Hart repeatedly referring to the duo as “The Brothers-in-Law.”
Hart’s Ben Barber is juggling wedding planning by phone with his fiance, the Amazon Angela (Tika Sumpter) and having shouting matches with the wedding planner (Sherri Shepherd). Over hydrangeas.
I used to think Cube wore his shades in these movies to avoid cracking up at Hart’s antics. Now, I’m thinking they’re a coping mechanism. He’s more engaged in this film (or at least his stuntman is). Even though he has the same lines.
“I’m gon’ shoot choo in the face!”
Did I joke about the stunts? Here are four lines that will stop you in your tracks. Ken Jeong does parkour.
Nobody can fault the studio for wanting to collect more cash off the surprise hit pairing of these two. Watching Hart try too hard to save it is humbling.
There are more giggles in the trailer to “Central Intelligence,” which parks Hart next to “A Big Johnson” (Dwayne Johnson), and will be shown before showings of “Ride Along 2.”
As for this long, boring, violent sequel? Life’s too short.
MPAA Rating:PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual content, language and some drug material
Cast: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Ken Jeong, Olivia Munn, Sherri Shepherd, Benjamin Bratt, Bruce McGill
Credits: Directed by Tim Story, script by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. A Universal release.
Running time: 1:41