The film follows Ben Barber (Hart), a high school security guard who must prove to his girlfriend's brother, James Payton (Ice Cube), that he is worthy of marrying her. James, a police officer out to catch Serbian smugglers' boss Omar (Fishburne), takes Ben on a ride along to prove himself.
Principal photography began on October 31, 2012 in Atlanta and ended on December 19, 2012. The film was produced by Relativity Media, Cube Vision Productions and Rainforest Films, and distributed by Universal Pictures. Following two premieres in Atlanta and Los Angeles, the film was released worldwide on January 17, 2014. Despite negative reviews, the film earned a worldwide total of more than $153 million against a budget of $25 million. The film broke the record for highest domestic opening weekend gross in the month of January, taking in $41.5 million, a record broken again a year later when American Sniper had its wide release.
James Payton is a detective, on an undercover operation where fake passports are being smuggled into Atlanta by a man named "Omar". After a shootout with the smugglers, and a car chase that leaves one injured, the lieutenant leading the case ask James to drop the case on "Omar", something James doesn't do.
Ben Barber, a fast-talking, jumpy high school security guard who plays video games on his spare time, applies for the Atlanta City Police Academy. When he gets in, he decides to ask James for his blessings to marry his sister Angela. James then says Ben has to be worthy of Angela, making him go on a "ride along" to prove it.
After picking up Ben and taking him to the police station, James tells dispatch to give him all the 1-26's that are called into the station. James makes Ben take care of all the 1-26's. James then arrives at the park to question an informant Runflat, about a connection of Serbia and "Omar". He finds out that a shipment will come in later that day. After leaving the park, James takes Ben to the local shooting range where he finds out that Zastava M92's have been given to the store, Ben realizes he has a clue for James. When a 1-26 is called in, Ben and James are called to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market where a drunk man named Crazy Cody is being disorderly. Ben tries to subdue him but is unable to, so James arrests him.
Ben asks to be taken home before he receives a call from Angela. He tells her about his stressful day, before Angela says that James plays poker with a guy named Crazy Cody, along with telling him that 1-26's are a code for annoying situations for new-comers as a joke. He then goes into the police station and sees Cody laughing with James and his partners Santiago and Miggs.
Upset at James, Ben refuses to go home and instead takes a 1-26 call to respond to a disturbance at a strip club, where two men get into a mexican standoff with James and Ben, which Ben thinks it's another joke call, so he fools around. James subdues the men, and the two are then tipped off about a gun deal involving Omar's men. Ben then confronts James about the 1-26's. James receives a call from Santiago in the car, when he finds out that Runflat had turned himself in, Ben says how Runflat's brother in the park said that Runflat had just got out of prison. James then contradicts, saying that Runflat hadn't been in prison for over two years, leading to another clue.
The men go to talk Runflat's other brother, J, trying to find out the location of the gun deal, during the confrontation, Ben accidentally shoots J, who subsequently reveals that the deal will take place at an old abandoned warehouse at 9 PM.
James decides to infiltrate the warehouse with Santiago and Miggs, after leaving Ben behind in the car. James is then betrayed by Santiago and Miggs, who turn out to be crooked cops working for Omar. James is then tied up, just when Ben witnesses. Santiago not only mocks James, but also criticizes him for his unsociable, egocentric personality. As the deal begins, Ben enters pretending to be Omar (since no one has ever actually seen the real Omar). Having successfully fooled the crooks, Ben then wreaks havoc at the deal, and right as Ben is about to leave with James, the real Omar appears. A shootout ensues, and many of Omar's men are killed. Ben reveals his sharp reflexes and extensive knowledge of battle (a result of his video game experience). James and Ben take the money meant for the deal and escape right before the warehouse blows up because of Ben's grenade that hit a box of explosives and destroys James's car. Unbeknownst to them, Santiago, Miggs and Omar all escape.
Santiago and Miggs arrive at Angela's apartment and tie her up. As she was playing one of Ben's video games, Ben's fellow players hear the confrontation ensuing between Angela, Miggs and Santiago from Ben's headset. At the hospital after being shot in the leg, Ben receives a call from the fellow player, and tells James that there's something going on at the apartment. After seeing some dirty cops arrive at the hospital, James takes Ben and leaves to go to the apartment, along with Omar's money. James then injures Miggs, before getting into a fight with Santiago. As Santiago is about to shoot James, Angela knocks him out with a frying pan. Ben gets knocked out by Omar in a fight, before Omar takes the bag of money and Angela, and leaves the apartment.
James follows Omar and Angela and confronts them. Right as Omar is about to shoot James, Ben slides over a car and kicks him, and James shoots Omar twice, injuring him. Police arrest Omar, Miggs and Santiago. James gives Ben his blessing.
In a mid-credits scene Ben and Angela are engaged, and Ben is weeks away from graduating from the police academy. At a barbecue at James' house Ben blows up the barbecue grill and is sent flying back into the bushes, killing the neighbor's dog.Ice Cube as James Payton, a detective on an undercover operation in Atlanta to catch a smuggler boss named Omar. Despite being a loving and protective older brother to his sister, he is rough around the edges and is disapproving of Ben. Cube joined the film in November 2009, to both star and produce.
Kevin Hart as Benjamin "Ben" Barber, a fast-talking high school security guard who applies for the Atlanta City Police Academy. He loves his girlfriend and is willing to do whatever it takes to convince her brother that he is the right guy. He goes on a ride along with Payton to prove himself worthy of Payton's sister, Angela. Hart joined the cast in July 2012.
Tika Sumpter as Angela Payton, James's sister and Ben's girlfriend, for whom Ben has to prove himself worthy. Sumpter joined the film in October 2012.
John Leguizamo as Santiago, a detective and Miggs' partner. Leguizamo joined the film in October 2012.
Bryan Callen as Miggs, a detective and Santiago's partner. Callen joined the film in October 2012.
Laurence Fishburne as Omar, a boss of Serbian smugglers, who has never been seen by anyone, and is considered as a ghost. Fishburne was cast in December 2012.
Bruce McGill as Lt. Brooks, a lieutenant in the Atlanta Police department, and boss of Payton, Santiago, and Miggs.
Additional cast includes Gary Owen as Crazy Cody, Jay Pharoah as Runflat, David Banner as Pawnshop Jay, Dragoș Bucur as Marko, Gary Weeks as Dr. Cowan, Jacob Latimore as Ramone and Benjamin Flores, Jr. as Morris, Runflat's brother.
On November 29, 2009, The Hollywood Reporter announced that comedian Jason Mantzoukas had been hired to write cop-buddy comedy film Ride Along for New Line Cinema, originally written by Greg Coolidge, with Ice Cube set to star in and produce the film along with Matt Alvarez, through Cube's film company, Cube Vision Productions. On July 11, 2012, Universal Pictures acquired the distribution rights to the film from New Line, with production starting in October, Tim Story was set to direct the film, rewritten by Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay, and produced by Will Packer and Larry Brezner. On October 31, the studio announced the film would be released on January 17, 2014.
Ice Cube joined the cast on November 29, 2009, to play the lead role, Detective James; the story was then about a rogue cop who tries to break off his sister's engagement to an upper-crust white psychiatrist by inviting his future brother-in-law on a ride-along. Kevin Hart joined the cast on July 11, 2012 to play Ben, a high school security guard, with his character changed from white to black. On October 16, John Leguizamo joined the cast of the film to play an undercover cop. On October 30, Tika Sumpter, Bryan Callen, and Jay Pharoah joined the cast; Sumpter plays Angela, Ben's fiancee and James' sister, while Callen plays an undercover cop, and Pharaoh plays a street informant.
On November 9, Backstage posted that the film's director was looking for adult extras of all ethnicities for the background in the film. On November 16, Bruce McGill joined the cast of the film to play a hard-nosed lieutenant. On December 7, Gary Owen also joined the cast, followed by Laurence Fishburne.
Principal photography on the film began on October 31, 2012 in Atlanta, and crews were filming some scenes at Underground Atlanta on October 31 and November 1. On October 31, CBS Atlanta posted the news that Atlanta police are warning residents that there would be a simulated gun battle inside the mall area during the filming on Thursday, November 1. It was a 35-day shoot, which wrapped up filming on December 19 in Atlanta.
On April 29, 2013, Christopher Lennertz was hired to score the film. Lennertz previously collaborated with Story on the 2012 comedy Think Like A Man. The soundtrack was released digitally on January 14, 2014 by Back Lot Music, while a CD version was released on January 28 by Varèse Sarabande.
All music composed by Christopher Lennertz (Tracks 1–21).
A teaser trailer and an image were released on July 1, 2013. On September 26, studio revealed the first teaser poster featuring Cube and Hart. On November 5, eight new images from the set and the poster were revealed. A second trailer of the film was revealed from studio on November 7. On December 19, Universal released a full length trailer for the film.
On the night of January 6, 2014, the film's first premiere was held at Atlantic Station in Atlanta. On January 13, the Los Angeles premiere was held at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. Following the two premieres, the film was released worldwide on January 17, 2014.
The film's 3-day opening weekend gross was $41,516,170, at 2,663 US and Canadian theaters (an average $15,590 per theater gross), giving Ride Along the then-record for highest domestic opening weekend gross in the month of January, ahead of 2008's Cloverfield. For the 4-day record-breaking MLK weekend, the film grossed $48,626,380. The film held the number one spot at the US box office for three weeks, grossing $21 million and $12 million in its second and third weekends. The North American domestic gross was $134,202,565, with the international gross being $19,059,619, bringing the worldwide total to $153,262,184.
Ride Along was released on DVD and Blu-ray on April 15, 2014. This release included an alternate ending, a gag reel, deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes documentary and a feature commentary of the film by Story. In the United States, the film has grossed $13.5 million from DVD sales and $8.7 million from Blu-ray sales, making a total of $22.2 million.
Ride Along received generally negative reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 18%, based on 121 reviews, with a rating average of 4.2/10. The site's consensus states: "Kevin Hart's livewire presence gives Ride Along a shot of necessary energy, but it isn't enough to rescue this would-be comedy from the buddy-cop doldrums." Metacritic assigns the film a score of 41 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
British critic Mark Kermode gave the film one out of five stars, describing it as "an action-comedy short on both action and comedy."
Scott Foundas of Variety called the film "a lazy and listless buddy-cop action-comedy that fades from memory as quickly as its generic title." Entertainment Weekly′s film critic Chris Nashawaty gave the film a "C+" grade."
The film received several award nominations, a 2014 BET Award for Best Actor for Kevin Hart, and two 2014 MTV Movie Awards nominations, Best On-Screen Duo for Ice Cube and Hart, and Best Comedic Performance for Hart. On April 13, 2014, after the best-screen-duo award went to Vin Diesel and Paul Walker for Fast & Furious 6, Ice Cube joked to USA Today that they were robbed.
On April 23, 2013, the studio announced that there would be a sequel to the film. On February 18, 2014, it was announced that after the success of the first Ride Along film, Universal was moving forward with the sequel, which Tim Story would return to direct. Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reprised their roles, with Will Packer producing, and Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi on board again as screenwriters. Ride Along 2 started filming on July 7, 2014; filming locations included Miami, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia. Universal released the film on January 15, 2016.