RIDE ALONG "Hey, I know you! You're the guy who made 'Fuck tha Police,' right?"

ICE CUBE PLAYING a cop in Ride Along must've been funny, a little bit, to everyone he told. His friends. His family. Dr. Dre. MC Ren. The altar in his dining room devoted to Eazy-E.

I bet they laughed especially hard when he read to them from the script—like that one scene where they'd have to roll up on a young black street informant, played by Saturday Night Live's Jay Pharaoh, and get him to talk, scaring the shit out of him, by threatening to kick his ass and/or lie about Pharoah's informant getting physical with a cop.

Ride Along, you see, is a comedy. And nothing's funnier than irony.

Ice Cube is James, a prick undercover vice cop who deviates from the Atlanta Police Department's policy manual whenever he sees fit, cracking heads and presiding over three police shootings in just two days.

James is precisely the kind of unaccountable cowboy cop Ice Cube once pretended to prosecute in "Fuck tha Police." Something about "without a gun, they can't get none."

Ride Along teaches us about guns and cops pretty quickly. Kevin Hart plays James' would-be brother-in-law, Ben—who's defined by these three things: He's obsessed with military-style videogames. He wants to marry James' sister. And also he just got accepted into the police academy. He gets roped into the titular ride-along because James won't give the wedding his blessing until Ben proves his mettle.

Hart and his motormouth are the best things about Ride Along. Ben's supposed to humorously suffer through impossible situations set up by the melodramatically calloused James. Except Ben's empathetic ineptitude mostly reminds us that cops are supposed to have a conscience.

But even Ben's a bit of a cowboy deep down. At risk of taking a ridiculous buddy comedy way too seriously, loving guns in a videogame isn't much different than loving them in real life. And when Ben finally wins James' respect (because you know he will), it's not because he taught James a lesson. It's because he was taking a page from the bad cop he'd just spent the day watching.