Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert

You can choose your friends but you can’t choose family. That homespun truth underpins the goofy shoot ‘em up fun of last year’s Ride Along, the smash action-comedy featuring Ice Cube as a take-no-crap police detective reluctantly mentoring his loud-mouthed, highly strung would-be in-law: Kevin Hart’s high school security guard/cop cadet character who’s set to wed Cube’s sister.

On the heels of the $25 million movie’s out-of-nowhere $153 million global box office haul, Ride Along 2 (Jan. 15, 2016) aims to recapture the dysfunctional chemistry between its two leads while taking the pair’s buddy-cop relationship into new comedic territory. “In the past it was like, ‘I hate you’: a guy who doesn’t think his sister’s fiancé is up to par,” says Cube. “Now we’ve been through the fire a little bit. He’s still getting on my nerves. But I like him a little. He wants to call us the ‘Brothers in Law.’ Like, the brothers in the law. That’s where he’s going with it. We family. We gotta stick together and all that s—.”

All that s— includes an in-built tick-tock: Ride Along 2 finds Hart’s police academy graduate character, Ben, tagging along from Atlanta to Miami with Cube’s James to track down a fugitive criminal (the Hangover franchise’s Ken Jeong) just hours before Ben is set to walk down the matrimonial aisle. “So he’s up against the clock, he’s up against the bad guys and he’s up against me,” Cube explains. And yet: “Him being a gung-ho rookie, he has more attitude than when he was a gung-ho security guard. He’s cocky.”

Not exactly easing the tension, Olivia Munn plays Cube’s Miami counterpart, a hard-charging detective who teams up with the mismatched duo to collar their criminal quarry. “She and Kevin have a power struggle,” says Cube. “She don’t like Kevin and Kevin don’t like her because she’s a little too strong for Kevin. Kevin’s a little too nosy. They just hate each other from the start.”

Cube insists he, Hart and director Tim Story (Think Like a Man, First Sunday) took pains to avoid recycling the situational comedy that made Ride Along in an effort to create of what the rapper-turned-mogul terms a “true action-comedy.” “It’s so lazy to just try to rely on the first one,” says Ice Cube, who took time out of a press gauntlet for Straight Outta Compton to speak with EW. “The challenge was to make a whole ‘nother movie. We just went bigger and better with the action. We wanted to turn up the comedy, do things people haven’t seen. We have to ride that into new jokes and situations and make it seem like the relationship is moving forward. Not relying on what we relied on in the past.”

He adds: “I think people gone dig it.”

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Ride Along 2
  • Movie
  • 101 minutes