Ride Along: Making of Ice Cube Action Comedy

Ride Along began its journey to the big screen several years ago when writer Greg Coolidge pitched producer Larry Brezner his idea for a buddy comedy. Recalls Brezner: “I thought that the time was right for Ride Along because it had been a while since I’d seen an action-comedy like 48 Hours, Trading Places—those classic buddy comedies that work so well with two people in conflicted situations just being funny.”

Brezner offers what draws so many of us to the genre and why comedy can juxtapose so well into action: “The great thing about this type of movie is that the action doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s faster. It means that there’s action going on that provides life-threatening tension. In this world where there’s a lot of tension and things are exploding, the most mundane conversation can be the funniest conversation of all.”

Although the project was in development for a few years at another studio, it would take just the right combination of cast and filmmakers to reunite several longtime friends with some fresh new comedic faces, starting with actor and producer Ice Cube.

Cube shares how the action-comedy made its way to Universal Pictures: “The movie had been over at New Line, but it just wasn’t coming together. Then we started getting more traction and heard that Kevin Hart loved the script, and I admired his stand-up a lot. So we came to Universal with the movie; then we got Kevin and our director, Tim Story. They worked together on Think Like a Man, and I worked with Tim on Barbershop, so we’re getting the band back together.”

The comedy duo was ready to bring to life the story of a tough detective and a high-school security guard who dreams of becoming the cop’s brother-in-law—a tale that had been honed over the years by Coolidge’s fellow writers, Jason Mantzoukas and the team of Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi.

An Atlanta school guard by day and video game aficionado by night, Ben fluctuates between reality and fantasy…longing to be an officer of the law and finally wed to his girlfriend, Angela. After being accepted into the police academy, Ben seeks permission from Angela’s brother, gruff detective James, for her hand in marriage. However, Ben soon finds that James’ “help” may be more than he bargained for. With every intention of getting rid of this clown once and for all, James is ready to give the “pre-cadet” the ride along of his life…and scare him away from their family for good.

Cube’s longtime production partner, Matt Alvarez, discusses his team’s interest in developing the action-comedy for Cube and Hart, which dovetailed with Brezner: “There was a void in the marketplace for buddy-action movies. We approached this film by going back to the classics like 48 Hours, Midnight Run, even Beverly Hills Cop. When we dove into this, we wanted to go back to the movies that we grew up on—classics that still resonate with an audience.”

Alvarez explains that bringing together Cube and a former cohort was key to getting Ride Along off the ground: “The first movie I did with Tim was Barbershop, and over the course of the 10 years since that film, when certain things would come across my desk, I’d call him and we’d talk about it. I knew from the experience on Barbershop and the performances that Tim got out of our actors on that film there was no doubt that he could do this movie. He also had the preexisting relationship with Cube, Kevin and Will Packer, so it was just a family coming together again.”

Story’s last movie, the blockbuster Think Like a Man, helped launch the film career of successful comedian Hart, and Story was eager to work with the actor again. The director explains his interest in Ride Along, a film he refers to as a “comedic take on Training Day.” He says: “The idea was to put Kevin with Cube, and we all loved that. The good thing about it is that when we finally met to discuss the project, they got along very well. You could tell in the room that their humor together would play amazingly well on camera. They have a great chemistry.”

Hart discusses what drew him to this character: “Ben is a quirky guy who lives in a world of make-believe, with hints of reality. He’s that charming guy you root for. You know that his outlook on life is a little different. At the same time, once you get to know him, his point of view actually serves a purpose. But, more importantly, you see that he has a good heart. At the end of the day, he just wants to be liked.”

The seasoned comic and actor admits that he learned a lot after he was cast to perform by Cube’s side: “Seeing how engaged he is with his work, how committed he is to this project—he’s a polished actor and a professional. Cube is who you want to be when you evolve to a certain level in your career. For me, it was more of an education.”

Producer Packer, who had worked with Story and Hart on Think Like a Man, agrees with his director on why the pairing was so natural: “The relationship between Kevin and Cube works so well because of the dynamics. Cube is the ultimate straight man. I don’t care what is going on in front of or behind the camera, he has this ability to not crack a smile. We would be shooting a scene, and Kevin was absolutely unhinged. Everybody in front, behind the crew, is laughing and can’t keep a straight face. But Cube has the classic Cube scowl. He does not break!”

Comedy proves abundant in Ride Along, whether it is the height difference between Ben and Angela or the incorporation of Cube’s iconic rap lyrics into the movie’s dialogue. Offers Cube: “It’s a good reminder to the audience that we’re having fun and that anything goes in this movie. You never know what you’re going to see. You’ve got to be prepared for anything.”