Two years ago, a boisterous, bombastic, loony take on the buddy-cop genre set a new record at the U.S. box office for an opening weekend in January (which lasted, of course, until the following year). Ride Along was buoyed by rapper-turned-comic actor Ice Cube (playing a cop, of all characters) and a rapidly rising comedian/fireplug named Kevin Hart. With its huge earnings and comparatively miniscule budget, there was exactly zero chance that Hollywood wasn't going to trot out these same two characters again. So here we are: Hart once again plays Ben Barber, who's been made a probationary police officer after proving himself in the first film, and is about to marry Angela (Tika Sumpter), the sister of his commanding officer James Payton (Cube). After Barber and Payton make a hijinks-filled arrest and discover a crucial computer hard drive, they head to Miami to hunt down the drug dealer who controls the pipeline from Atlanta to South Beach (a smirking, sinister Benjamin Bratt). Along the way, they team up with a sultry but stern local cop named Maya (Olivia Munn). The movie feels too long at 102 minutes, as the characters follow the investigation from a red herring to the requisite party scene to a dramatic final showdown. Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi penned the half-baked script, which forces Hart to oversell his trademark histrionics and Cube to double down on his taciturn demeanor. Not content to let audiences follow the emotional arc and pick up on the subtext of the movie themselves, the filmmakers bog down the pace with unnecessary asides and expository observations, often interrupting the comic momentum. The story is also slightly lazy, with some improbable saves during the tense fights and chase scenes, as well as insults intended for comedic effect that end up falling flat. There are a few things to like about this sequel, namely the superb work done by consummate comedic team player Ken Jeong. Playing a conniving computer hacker, Jeong captures the naughty, zany vibe of a nerd with a penchant for the high life who has gotten himself in too deep. At his best, Hart plays along expertly with Jeong, which allows his gifts for physical comedy to shine. One particular foot-chase scene involving Hart and Jeong finds the erstwhile standup comic navigating a variety of different obstacles, and his frantic, put-upon reactions make for one of the film's true highlights. Bratt proves himself capable of handling meatier movie roles with his villainous turn here, but the real surprise is Cube, who truly outacts the material he's provided with, and who more than holds his own in his scenes with Hart and Munn. His frustrated and befuddled scowl has become a reliable source of laughs, and his willingness to act goofy and play against his reputation as a legendary rapper have made him a bankable comedy star. Ride Along 2 gets more mileage out of this odd couple and their adventures than anyone could have expected, but at the same time, it still feels like they've dragged this story out for far too long. Hart and Cube try their best, and even when they are forced to inhabit stock archetypes for long stretches, they uncover small moments and genuine reactions that are capable of eliciting chuckles from viewers; it isn't surprising that audiences are willing to follow these guys anywhere. Here's hoping that the next time they team up on the big screen, their movie is based on a fresh concept.