THE MODERN buddy cop action comedy requires a precise mixture of elements. You need to move the audience from heavy themes like cocaine trafficking and police brutality to sitcom-style goof-ups and pratfalls, and then repeat that process several times over the course of 90 minutes. It's not easy. For every Bad Boys there's a Tango & Cash; for every Rush Hour there's a Hollywood Homicide. Director Tim Story's Ride Along 2 falls on the fun end of the spectrum—no mean feat for a sequel to a 2014 vehicle designed for Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.

Granted, I haven't seen that first Ride Along, but Ride Along 2 boasts nearly twice the budget and essentially the same plot synopsis (Cube is a supercop, Hart is a buffoonish poseur engaged to Cube's sister), so I feel confident in saying that if you enjoyed the first one, you'll enjoy the second. The same goes for Hart's shtick, large sections of which are transplanted directly from his stand-up.

What's particularly effective here is the staging: both action and slapstick exist in solid, comprehensibly established spaces. That may seem like faint praise, but even prestige blockbusters these days get sloppy with that stuff, and it's nice to see good fundamentals in what could easily have been a cash-in sequel. Even Ken Jeong and Olivia Munn get some cool moments, despite being slotted into the oft-misused "Snarky Computer Genius" and "Female Detective" roles.

Granted, I wish the occasional spurts of T&A didn't feel both exploitative AND perfunctory, and also that Benjamin Bratt, who plays the villain, hadn't chosen to speak like Christoph Waltz doing an impression of Speedy Gonzales. But setting that aside, I liked Ride Along 2 more than expected—and at the end of the day, that's all a grizzled buddy cop veteran like me can ask from a rookie franchise.