Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25 years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach. This is the only book that gives a true picture of the character of John Wooden and the influence of his assistant, Jerry Norman, whose contributions Wooden  ignored and tried to bury.

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Ride Along (2/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 97 minutes.

Not for children.

I often listen to a sports talk show called Mike and Mike in the Morning. A couple of days ago they were parroting that their guest was going to be Kevin Hart, who happens to be the costar of this film. One of the hosts, called Greenie, said something to the effect that Hart was “the funniest man alive.” The funniest men I have ever heard are Richard Pryor and Steve Martin (as a monologist). Pryor is no longer with us, but Martin’s monologues still make me laugh decades after I heard them.

When Greenie said this, though, I had already sat through Ride Along, which was my first exposure to Hart. If this is an example of what Greenie thinks is funny he must find things as mundane as watching someone walk down the street funny, because there is nothing in this movie that shows Hart as being even remotely humorous.

To give Hart some credit, though, when he was interviewed by Greenie on the radio, he told a story about pronouncing the word “psyche” that was in the script. He said he had never seen the word before so he pronounced it phonetically (try it) and got nothing but quizzical looks from the crew. He said it over and over and finally they asked him what he was saying and he pointed it out in the script, at which time they told him how it was pronounced, after everyone laughed themselves silly. This was a charmingly self-deprecating story that was ingratiating, so I’m not going to write him off just because of a bad script and weak director.

Directed by Tim Story, this is so silly, so full of plotholes, so unfunny, so hackneyed that it would have been rejected as a B movie back in the ‘40s. Hart plays an inept boyfriend to Ice Cube’s sister who wants to become a policeman like Ice Cube. Ice Cube invites him to “ride along” with him one day, and, naturally, that’s the day when Ice Cube gets a chance to bring down the criminal he’s been tracking for a long time.

Hart bumbles and stumbles and makes one foreseeable mistake after another. But, surprise surprise!, his ineptitude and courage finally save the day.

I have seen Ice Cube when he was really funny, in 21 Jump Street (2012) where his deadpan humor as an always angry police boss was one of the funniest bits in the movie. Here, however he reprises that role as he is always angry but he’s not funny. He’s given no help by a script that seems to have been written by a community of writers, so many that I won’t mention them here. Multiple writing credits are always a bad sign, and the omen is fulfilled by this movie that pictures Hart as being ridiculously stupid and tries to masquerade that as humor. It’s not funny and neither is this movie.

January 17, 2014