Universal          101 Minutes               PG-13     

This ride is much better than the first Ride Along movie. There is actually a story. Yes, there is a series of bits, but this time they are funny and sometimes even advance the plot. Ice Cube, as James Payton, and Kevin Hart, as his prospective brother-in-law, Ben Barber, go after a drug lord in Miami who is trying to supply baddies in their home town, Atlanta.

Both Hart and Ice Cube describe this film as bigger, better, funnier and sexier. There is a lot of action, especially the car chases and explosions. Early in the film, Hart’s character is playing a video game with car chases to get the bad guys. Later in the film, he’s driving in a car chase of his own and it turns into an animated video like the game he likes to play. The transition works and it’s fun.

Hart also says they made an effort to widen the appeal of this film internationally by making it ok for all ages and by including every race and ethnicity to get diversity and that setting it in Miami helped.

Kevin Hart is a comedian who is a ball of energy. We’ve experienced that, first hand, interviewing him. He’s frenetic but more controlled in this film. He also plays well with others, so the rest of the cast has their time, too. It’s more of an ensemble working together than Hart against the world.

Ice Cube produced this film and seems even more comfortable acting this time. He says that working with Hart is a matter of mutual respect. “Kevin doesn’t have a problem playing Boo Boo to my Yogi.” He says Hart’s like his little brother, so it’s just a lot of fun.

Olivia Munn plays tough Miami cop, Maya. She says Ice Cube is like a Dad on the set and Hart really is like the little brother. She calls Hart “the funniest man on the planet.” Once, she said, he said something really funny before shooting a scene and every time she looked at him during the takes, she would break up and couldn’t stop laughing. It got so bad, Cube finally told Hart to leave the set, so they could get the scene. Munn still laughs about it.

Ken Jeong plays AJ, a computer whiz turned hacker once he realizes what his bad guy boss is up to. He joins the others trying to get Antonio, played well by Benjamin Bratt. Brett agrees with Munn’s assessment. “I can’t say enough good things about Kevin Hart. I mean this guy, for where he is and who he is, he’s the #1 comic in the world right now. And for him to be so humble and so giving as an actor and just so open to ideas and so inclusive. I really haven’t seen someone like that.”

Jeong also gives kudos to Ice Cube. He says acting with him is so easy because he’s so grounded as the straight man which, he says, allows them to float all over the place and keep the scene in tact.

Hart says they were all laughing from the first day, and the chemistry he and Cube have is something you can’t teach. They just clicked from the start.

Some of it is silly, like the alligator scene. And the salsa dance between Bratt and Munn is a welcome distraction while Hart is trying to get incriminating evidence against the bad guys. It’s just a little too distracting and way over edited.

But Munn says “…the thing about comedy that people love is that it’s surprising. When something makes you truly laugh, it’s because it’s completely surprising.” There are several times this happens in the film including one when Hart pops up how and where you’d least expect him.

Is this worth your bucks? There were plenty of big laughs from the audience at our screening. This one works much better than the first Ride Along where Hart, as Ben, acts on overdrive. Here, he shows he doesn’t need to steal every scene to make a point. The ensemble works much better together. We admit it’s a wild ride, but this one holds the road much better.