Ride Along is a truly unique movie, with a surprising blend of action and comedy and a great dynamic between its co-stars, Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. And gaming plays a big part: Kevin Hart's character is a hardcore gamer, and he has to prove to Ice Cube, who plays the protective brother of Hart's character's fiance, that he's as big in real life as he is in the game.
But Ride Along treats games not as a punch line, but as a positive force in the characters' lives. It's refreshing to see, and it's mostly thanks to Hart, who's a gamer in real life. Ice Cube's not such a gamer—not lately, anyway—but he has ample talents to make up for it.
This week in Los Angeles Complex sat down with Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Ride Along director Tim Story, and producer Will Packer to talk about the film, video games, Cube's next album, and that elusive "good day."
"I used to game a lot, you know, back in the day. My gaming time done got so short that my skills ain't where they need to be to be online, you know what I'm saying?"
Complex: The gaming aspect in the film feels really authentic—you say things that gamers really say. What inspired that?
Kevin Hart: Before we started the one thing about the script was there was a great collaboration between us of just making the material right. You know, if you don't have a solid story, you don't have a solid movie. So the one thing that we all say is that it needs to be real. It needs to come off grounded. It was already on the page of what it was, but then Tim and me going back and forth, and Will, just about, "Hey look, this isn't real gamer talk. It should be a little more and we should add it."
So it was them letting me play around and really, really talk the shit that they talk on the headsets, and really convince [Ice Cube's character] that in this world [of the video game] I'm big. I'm huge. And you can't do that without really knowing the talk of what you guys talk when you're in that.
Ice Cube, do you ever game at all? What happens when you lose?
Ice Cube: I used to game a lot, you know, back in the day. My gaming time done got so short that my skills ain't where they need to be to be online, you know what I'm saying? I just got that Xbox One. I gotta get my skills back, up the par to call myself a gamer. But not right now, I can't call myself a gamer. I'm just a pretender right now. But I'll get it. Next time you see me I'm gonna be ready to battle you, you know what I'm saying? We could do that.
Kevin, as the gamer, what games are you into right now?
Kevin Hart: Here's the thing: I'm a year behind in all my games because I haven't had the time in '13 to play. But Call of Duty[Black Ops 2], NBA 2K12, and a little bit of [NBA 2K13]. I really was serious in 2K. I used to play for a lot of money in 2K. And then I fell off, and I just didn't have time. I used to crack motherfucker's heads out here. In a virtual world, right?
Cube, do you have to practice that face you make in the mirror? Or does it come naturally to you?
Ice Cube: Nah, it comes naturally. In school, you know, people would come over and be like, "What you so mad about?" [laughing] Like, "I don't know what you're talking about! I'm cool right now. I'm happy." "But you look so mean, so mad!" It's just how I look.
There's a great "It Was A Good Day" joke in Ride Along. Do you ever get sick of making those?
Nah, nah, nah, you know, it's like, I remember doing that song, and I remember my crew was talking shit about it, you know what I mean? They was like, "Man, you hardcore, what the fuck you talking about "It was a good day"? Man, that shit ain't going to work." And I'm telling them, "Shut up, shut up." And it ended up being my biggest song, you know what I'm saying? I never get tired of "It Was A Good Day" references or jokes or anything like that. It's just, you know, keeping my biggest hit alive. Nothing wrong with that.
For Ride Along what kind of scenes did you guys leave on the cutting room floor?
Tim Story: There's a few nuggets that we didn't put in the movie, and it was just because these guys gave us so much stuff there were times when we couldn't use [all of it]. There was a moment when, you know, "How tall is Omar now?" and there's another version of it where Kevin goes down on the ground with the guy and looks at him eye-to-eye. And it's hilarious. But we could only use one of them. He could either be up or down, so we used the one where he stood up. But there's a lot of things that we're just going to have to put on the DVD because these guys give us so much stuff.
Will Packer: They give you options, too. That's the cool thing about it, is that there are different takes and different levels, and Tim chose the best ones. And so what you see now is, you know, a culmination of things, but it could have gone a different way. Funny is always you've got to have the impact, and you've got to have the reaction. That's what funny really is, you know? You can't have the great funny guy without the great straight man. So that's where that chemistry comes in. But you know, if Tim called for four takes, Kev's going to give it to you four different ways. And so it's really just about figuring out which one is going to be the best one.
And then to watch them ping-pong off each other, because Cube gives as good as he gets. So Kev would be trying to break, you know, everybody—he could come with something that nobody knows what he's going to do, he would come with a crazy ad-lib, and he would break, like, the crew. I mean, we would mess up the take because behind the camera we were all laughing at him. Not [Ice Cube]. Cube was ready. You could tell he's worked with comedians on that level before. We would be breaking and he wouldn't break. We got good stuff.
Cube, you're going back to music now. What's going on with that?
Ice Cube: You know, I never left it. I'm always dropping something. I'm independent, so, you know, a lot of stuff goes under the radar. But it's really all about connecting with Ice Cube fans and people that still want to hear me get down. "Everything's Corrupt" will be out May 13. It's just, you know, ferocious MCing.
"Everything's corrupt" is a title that can apply to so many things—what's the tone of the album? What are some of the things that you touch on?
Ice Cube: I mean, there's a song on there called "Dominate the Weak," which is basically what they do to the people in the system, you know what I mean? They put the sheep to sleep and then they dominate the weak. That's one tone. It's a metaphor. [laughing, to Hart] I've got to teach you metaphors. You gotta understand, you know, he came from the Philadelphia unified school district, you know what I'm saying? So he's a little slow.
Kevin Hart: He has to explain a lot of stuff to me. The beauty of me is I'm always going to ask. I'll never not ask. Remember the table reads?
Tim Story: No shame, you can't read. At the table reads Kev would stop the whole thing, "I don't know what this word means. Tim, what is this?"
Kevin Hart: I'll say it before I get there. Before I look stupid and not know what a word means or how to pronounce it, I'll stop the whole production, "Hey, real quick, guys. Define this word for me. Somebody."
Any word on "Friday"?
Ice Cube: Oh, you know, Friday is in development hell over at New Line, you know? It's like, New Line and Time Warner gotta get their shit together, they gotta realize people want this movie, and they gotta cut the check, you know what I mean? They just had a little regime change over there, so hopefully they come to their senses.
Now that Ice Cube and Kevin Hart together is a thing, what other actors do you want to throw into the mix?
Kevin Hart: Rather than doing that I feel like we should probably put me in a prosthetic and do what Eddie Murphy did with The Nutty Professor.
Tim Story: So Cube can have more!
Kevin Hart: [Laughing] Cube treats it like different people. They all sound the same, though. They look different, but the voice never changes.
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