*NEW* RIDE ALONG 2 REVIEW *NEW*

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The brothers-in-law are back. BUT bigger and better? Not even close.

As his wedding day approaches, Ben (Kevin Hart) heads to Miami with his soon-to-be brother-in-law James (Ice Cube) to bring down a drug dealer who’s supplying the dealers of Atlanta with product.

Kevin Hart stole the show yet again and did just enough to keep things watchable BUT memorable? Let’s be honest, the first Ride Along wasn’t perfect. It was silly, OTT BUT (for a good portion of the movie) funny. Worthy of a sequel? Not so much. BUT a smash hit at the box office meant one thing. SEQUELS, baby!

A promising opening sequence hit the ground running. A vast improvement from the original. Trading cliched cop guff for a hilarious Fast and Furious style stake out. It even came with a Tyrese Gibson cameo. I just wish more was made of it. BUT how was he going to compete with Kevin Hart in a ridiculous low rider?!

It’s just a shame that as this second helping chugged along, it failed to reach any level the original set. It was incredibly patchy and no where near as funny. Hart and Cube did their best BUT it wasn’t enough. Cube’s stone cold pallor got a few laughs and he did seem to lighten up this time round.

BUT the real scene stealer, other than Hart, was Ken Jeong (The Hangover). He wasn’t in this enough. From his nerdy improv to drunken madness, he was brilliant. When teamed up with Hart, they should have been as annoying as hell BUT it was comedy gold. Their stake out debates ranging from ranking Star Wars movies to Biggie or Sir Mixalot being the better artist delivered the chuckles.

Benjamin Bratt’s bland drug kingpin was weak. He delivered more sinister conviction as El Macho in Despicable Me 2. Olivia Munn (Magic Mike) was stunning BUT her character was terrible. Desperate to be the female equivalent of Cube and we all knew where that story line was going to lead. Besides, we already had Cube, we didn’t need another. She only really got to shine in the closing minutes. Too little, too late.

The pace and gags, like Kevin Hart’s shooting, were incredibly hit and miss. It didn’t help that we had a complete retread of Ben trying to win James’ approval. James desperate to see the back of him. Secretly hoping Ben will mess up the next mission. The lovely Tika Sumpter was tragically pushed into the background yet again.

The high speed Miami police chase sequence wasn’t bad with Ben having to visualize everything in a virtual Grand Theft Auto video game style. Signalling every direction he was going. Hart kept things above water. From flailing around in a silk kamino to pretending to be a demented foreign dignitary for his cover.

It just felt that for every good gag, there were a dozen duds. Hart’s dignitary spiel was funny BUT it was soon milked to death once he entered the embassy. The joke was dead and buried once a badly CGI’d croc was thrown into the mix.

The action sequences dragged on and failed to grab me. It reeked of desperation as the film rushed to its flat finale. We even had a regurgitation of the same old gag with Ben shooting another person by mistake. Really?

It was watchable enough and fun in places BUT the plot was dull and cliched to boot. And when the jokes fell flat, the film drudged along and the last 20 minutes really fizzled out with cliched speeches galore.

Move along, more like.

2/5

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THE BOOK OF LIFE REVIEW

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There’s life in the animation. Shame there isn’t any in the story.

Definitely one for the little ‘uns but adults may find themselves fidgeting. Fidgeting towards the exit door.

Brought to you by Guillermo Del Toro. Meaning; He has nothing to do with it. Other than having a production credit.

The honours go to animation director Jorge R. Gutierrez.

So what’s it all about? Manolo (Diego Luna) is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart (Awww . . . Yuck). Before choosing which path to follow, he embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds where he must face his greatest fears.

3D is not essential. It certainly would have made the animation more prominent but not a must.

It’s all a little slow to start with. An elongated subplot with a tour guide (Christina Applegate) that introduces the love triangle was all a little unnecessary. The boring spiel of a group of detention kids forced to go on a museum tour just broke up the real story. It felt like a lazy plot device just to explain why the characters are made of wood.

The flicking back and forth may have allowed the detention kids to deliver some funny one liners but the end result could be seen a mile away. Dreadfully corny.

The animated worlds are nearly worth the ticket price alone. Nearly. Especially with the Land of the Remembered. The colours, the detail. Breathtaking.

The love story very much focuses on three friends; Manolo (Luna), Joaquin (Channing Tatum) and Maria (Zoe Saldana). The cast at Gutierrez’s disposal is fantastic. Diego Luna doesn’t do a bad job but his singing leaves a little to be desired.

Some of the songs that he covers sound a little flat i.e. Mumford and Sons – I Will Wait but his cover of Radiohead’s Creep was an unexpected surprise. To be honest, Luna seemed to grasp and sing the songs made for the movie better than the covers.

Tatum was brilliant. If anyone can play a deluded chughead, it would be him. Saldana does her best but her character is so bland and unmemorable. Merely the fire to spurn the contender’s passion.

The whole “love wager” between the rulers of the Lands of the Forgotten (Xibalba – Ron Perlman) and Remembered (La Muerte – Kate Del Castillo) was a little corny and didn’t really get as dark or as interesting as it could have been. Betting on which man Maria will fall for was done so lightly that any real conflict or tension is quickly disposed of.

Whoever lost would be forced to rule of the Land of the Forgotten – a desolate dull landscape whether the wandering spirits are left to disparate. You get an indication of what tone to expect by the fact the tour guide describes how Xibalba is made of tar and all “the icky stuff of the world”. Yeah . . . it’s that sort of film.

I understand it’s a children’s film but there was a moment in how Manolo crosses over to the Land of the Remembered that suggested something a little more macabre. I was hoping it might sneak into the Nightmare Before Christmas/Coraline territory but it’s all dealt with a little too cheesily and surprisingly quick.

So pace certainly wasn’t an issue. Something I always complain about. I couldn’t believe how many stars popped up in this. (Well, their voices). Hector Elizondo, Danny Trejo, Placido Domingo, Cheech Marin and . . . Ice Cube.

Ice Cube surprised me the most. The others I knew would be up for a laugh but it made a change to hear a different tone in Cube’s voice. His Candle Maker character looked strangely a lot like Zeus from Disney’s Hercules. Ron Perlman. I should have known he would pop in a Del Toro (produced) pic. He was delightfully OTT as Xibalba. A proper panto villain in this supernatural pantomine.

The gags are little hit and miss. The overenthusiastic singing nuns were incredibly irritating. But where one lot were irritating, another group were . . . really irritating. No, more mildly entertaining. The Mariachi band (led by Marin) brought the odd giggle, especially with their cover of Rod Stewart’s Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?

It zips along, brings a few chuckles but despite it’s beautiful animation; the characters are dreadfully cliched and the story is oh so predictable. There’s enough to keep the little ‘uns occupied for 90 minutes but the adults might be caught kicking the seats.

2.5/5

22 JUMP STREET REVIEW

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Jump to your nearest store or online outlet and see this movie!

Hill and Tatum reunite for a ridiculously OTT but incredibly funny sequel that has enough to match its predecessor and possibly surpass it.

Now Jump Street has never been (and never will be) subtle. If you like your comedies a little more subdued and less about sex and drug gags than . . . Why are you here?

Now I liked 21 Jump Street but felt it was a little overhyped. The way my brother bigged this movie up to me; I was expecting an Anchorman but it still delivered the goods.

What I loved about these movies is the blatantly obvious self-referencing, the ability to poke fun at itself and constant breaking of the fourth wall. This is perfectly demonstrated with Deputy Chief Hardy Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) explaining how the idiotic success of their last mission has led to their budget being doubled so they can do the exact same thing and hopefully yield the exact same results.

And boy do they! With crazy car chases, OTT action pieces, zippy one liners and laugh out loud gags from Jonah Hill’s wooing poetry slam to Tatum’s buffoonery. I always knew Hill would impress. You can tell where he improvises and it makes things all the better for it. There are a couple moments where the jokes have the tendency to go on a little bit.

I always found Tatum a little wooden in his other movies but whether it be the subject or his partnership with Hill; he has really come out of himself and is absolutely brilliant and they fantastically together.

It’s hardly perfect. The plot line is reversed to predictable if hilarious results. This time around, the inevitable happens in which Hill struggles to adjust to college life after his surprise performance at high school, while Tatum blends straight in, forming a bromance with another jughead that soon threatens to destroy the relationship of the dynamic duo.

I could list all the gags but hey, why would I do that? I was just pleased that this wasn’t a case of all the best bits in the trailer.

Ice Cube was actually very funny. I felt his typical angry bravado was used for its strengths this time around and he was given a little more screen time which allowed for some cracking moments.

Peter Stormare seemed to play a strangely out of place and generic villain. I mean the passing joke about what happened to the 90s works for those are familiar with his numerous bad guy roles back in the day but for anyone else, it will go straight over your head.

Patton Oswalt (King of Queens) was in a funny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo as a teacher whose just received tenure. I just wish he was in it more. The alluring Amber Stevens (Greek) plays the love interest well and was able to be more than just a cliched cut out. The Lucas Brothers (TWINS! JINX!) were brilliant as the Yang twins. A memorable supporting role if ever there was one.

I found Jillian Bell quite irritating by the end. Her old guy jibes at Hill were funny (At first) BUT the massive punch up goes on far too long. I could respect the Mr & Mrs Smith parody nod BUT it got a little repetitive.

And of course, regular faces from the original (Well, original remake) pop up. Inevitably, the teasers were hinting for another sequel. IF the gags are this good, I’m happy to keep watching.

Keep watching the closing credits for a fantastic sequels gags. There was a surprising cameo from a certain comic actor.

I would have to say that this is one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a while. My name is Jeff! INVEST!

4 (just) out of 5!

RIDE ALONG REVIEW

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Chug along? Cube and Hart make a cracking good duo. Fun enough BUT will it compare to the relentless list of cop comedies?

Security guard Ben (Kevin Hart) must prove himself to his girlfriend’s brother, top cop James (Ice Cube). He rides along with James on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta.

A mixed bag. It all starts off very predictable, formulaic and unfunny with a deal gone wrong, an inevitable car chase and Cube tearing the place up. He played the straight faced Payton perfectly. BUT beneath the bravado there wasn’t much to his character.

A groggy start (with a feeble story line about infiltrating a crime ring and a rat in the office) is given a fresh boost when Hart is thrown into the mix. His military style precision on a Call of Duty style video game under the alias Black Hammer had me in stitches alone. I’ve been a fan of Hart for some time ever since the Scary Movie films. It’s great to see how far the little man’s gone.

He pretty much steals the show. His verbal diarrhea and high pitched screeching can get a little irritating. Inevitably, it took a little while for Ben and Payton to warm up to one another and the gags were few and far between. I could feel my excitement dropping quicker than Cube busting out a fresh freestyle.

Once the pair got going (Luckily) so did the film. There was a fantastic scene at the shooting range in which Hart is trying to show off. His feeble attempt blowing up in his face . . . literally. They did their best and it’s not a complete write-off. Hart upsetting a biker gang and picking a fight with a child. Brilliant.

Being held up in a warehouse in a battle of wits. Done to death. They had a nice angle with the Training Day parody but never really took full advantage of it. Maybe the 12A rating softened it all up but more could have been made. Hart being thrown about was only funny up to a point. He’s little. We get it. It got a chuckle. BUT doing it several more times? Come on now.

I liked the chemistry between Hart and Tika Sumpter (Salt). I would have been happy to see a little more of that than Cube’s stone cold expressions. Pardon the expression. BUT it was great seeing Cube keeping it dead pan with Hart coming out with all sorts of crazy stuff. Brilliant.

I was surprised to see the likes of John Leguizamo and Laurence Fishburne in this BUT they struggled to make a real impression with their dull and unmemorable characters. And that’s part of the problem. The terrible plot about a generic arms deal with the “surprise” twist being some predictable double crossing stretched the film out. It left little opportunities for gags and wasted a good cast.

When it was funny, it was on fire but when it’s wasn’t, it was slow and repetitive. Less Ride Along and more chug along. Hart was the man. I just wish he’d had better material. It did just enough. But if you’re looking for a consistently laugh out cop comedy, check out The Heat.

Cube and Hart did their best. And it did enough to get me excited for the upcoming sequel. Let’s hope they make amends with more gags or a better plot. If you’re up for a laugh, give it a go. Just don’t expect too much.

3/5 (Just)