Editor’s Notes: Ride Along 2 & Brief Encounter will be released on their respective formats on April 26th.
Ride Along 2
Ride Along 2 (Universal Home Entertainment), the sequel to 2014’s Ride Along, once again has Atlanta detective James Payton (Ice Cube) working with rookie beat cop Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) to follow a lead in a drug-ring case. What starts out as a two-day trip to Miami turns into an extended series of comic missteps, with Ben running the risk of missing his wedding as his fiancee, Angela Payton (Tika Sumpter), James’ sister, organizes their big day back home in Atlanta.
Hart and Ice Cube have easy screen chemistry, effortlessly bouncing zingers and one-liners off each other while doing some dangerous sleuthing. Comic screen duos have been popular at least since the days of Laurel and Hardy, extending through the comedies of Abbott and Costello, Hope and Crosby, and the antics of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. In recent years, the pairings have been sometimes successful, other times not, but Hart and Ice Cube have clicked. Together or separately, they provide some funny moments in a film that is quite similar to the original only bigger. There’s the squabbling, the inappropriate cop behavior, the awkward situations on the job, and the many examples of poor judgment that drive the comedy. The plot is predictable.
Sequels strive for one thing — to make more money than the original by amping up what is perceived to have made the original a success. It is disappointing how unimaginative Ride Along 2 is. Yes, we have the characters we enjoyed watching once before, but the writers and director Tim Story cover well-trod territory.
Bonus features on the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include deleted scenes, gag reel, Ride Along With Us” (in which Ben and James host a police department’s recruitment video), behind-the-scenes featurette, close-up look at the chemistry between Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, and feature commentary with director Tim Story.
Brief Encounter (The Criterion Collection) was voted the second-best British film of all time (just below Carol Reed’s The Third Man) by the British Film Institute. Adapted by director David Lean, Ronald Neame, and Anthony Havelock-Allan from Noel Coward’s play Still Life, the film explores a tragic love affair. Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson) and Dr. Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard) are seemingly happily married strangers to each other who meet in the cafe at a train station and become friends. Laura is a drab middle-class suburban housewife married to an inattentive workaholic. Alec also is in a loveless union, which has driven him to find solace in work. Both come to realize the degree of their discontent as an attraction between them develops.
Made in 1945, the film is remarkable because even though Laura and Alec engage in a furtive affair, they elicit audience sympathy, partly because we enjoy their delightful repartee and intelligent conversation and partly because they find in each other the attention and appreciation — and later love — that they lack in their marriages. The contrast between what they have and what they might have leads to the illicit affair. The tone of the movie has an elegance and gentility compared with modern romantic dramas, which usually run from melodramatic to cutesy. These are not wide-eyed teenagers swept up by infatuation. They are mature people whose chance meeting opens their eyes to the bleakness of their existence.
Bonus features on the Blu-ray Special Edition include audio commentary from 2000 by film historian Bruce Eder; interview from 2012 with Noel Coward scholar Barry Day; “A Profile of ‘Brief Encounter,” a short documentary on the making of the film; “David Lean: A Self-Portrait,” a 1971 TV documentary on Lean’s career; and an essay by historian Kevin Brownlow.