Taking the Brothers-In-Law to Miami: A Conversation with Tim Story and Will Packer
The Brothers-In-Law are back. In Ride Along 2, Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam to take down Miami drug lord, Antonio Pope (Benjamin Bratt), in an outrageous new action-comedy firing on all cylinders. A sequel to their breakout 2014 hit, which went on earn over $150 million at the box office, the new film also sees the return of Tika Sumpter – as Hart’s bride to be (and Cube’s long suffering sister), Angela Payton – along with newcomers Ken Jeong (The Hangover series) and Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse), joining the duo’s undercover team.
In this interview Director Tim Story and Producer Will Packer talk about reteaming with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, filming in Miami and their working relationship…
When did you first know you had a hit on your hands with the original Ride Along?
Tim Story: It was early on. I remember we showed Universal the movie at some point with a big audience. And just the way that audience responded, we kind of knew after that first screening there was something there.
Will Packer: Very early, like Tim said, we thought about a sequel. So that lets you know that we were very bullish, if you will, on the prospects of the first one. We started thinking about a sequel even before the first movie was released. And we actually shot Ride Along 2, the same year that Ride Along 1 was released, which in Hollywood terms is light-speed. I mean it just never happens that way.
What’s changed for these characters from where we last saw them?
TS: Well, in the first movie it was Kevin Hart wanting to become a part of this family of Ice Cube and Tika Sumpter, who play James and Angela – a brother and sister. In the second one, he’s now officially becoming a part of the family. There is a wedding that happens in this movie… And it’s great to take those characters to that next level. Ice Cube finally has to accept this man who he hated in the first movie. He now has to accept him into his family.
WP: Over the course of this movie, they learn to become brothers. Of course, there are a lot of bumps along the way. There’s a lot of hilarity that ensues. But ultimately, there is a theme of family and brotherhood that Tim Story did a great job of weaving into the narrative.
What is it about the combination of Cube and Hart that works so well on screen?
TS: You know, Ice Cube is the perfect straight man.
TS: And then you’ve got Kevin Hart who is a comedic genius. They’re opposites. And so they’re like your perfect odd-couple. And it’s great to watch them work. It really just goes effortlessly. These guys just know what makes each other tick.
WP: I also think it’s the fact that they’re both really at the prime of their careers. Ice Cube, obviously, has been around for a while. He’s done it all. He’s been a part of huge movies. But I think that right now he is really doing it better than ever. I really do. I think that he’s having a great moment in his career. And Kevin Hart, who’s also been around for a while – he’s having a moment. I think that together we’re so fortunate to be working with two guys who are really near or reaching the pinnacle of their careers.
You two have also been partners for some time, not only with the Ride Along films, but also on the Think Like a Man movies. What’s the secret to your success?
WP: Well, I don’t know if you can say that… I mean, those two guys [Hart and Cube] are on their way up. We’re on the way down! We’re just trying to grab as many successes as we can before we’re sitting on the beach somewhere (laughs).
TS: You know we like the same movies (laughs). It’s great to have a collaborator that gets what you’re trying to do and supports you. From a director’s standpoint, a producer like Will allows me to do all the stuff I want to do. And it’s great to know that support is – I won’t even say, ‘behind’ me. I’ll say, to the side of me. It’s great.
What was it like making a film in Miami?
WP: It’s a lot of fun.
TS: It is a lot of fun. It’s a great backdrop. I mean, if you’ve got to go to work, you know, go to work with 80-degree weather and palm trees and great beaches.
WP: And great libraries too. We did a lot of studying.
TS: We didn’t do anything in the libraries at all. We never went to the library.
WP: Yes we did.
TS: We went to the clubs.
WP: We read a lot.
TS: You went to the clubs.
WP: Slept a lot.
TS: You loved the clubs.
WP: There’s research. There’s research we had to do for this movie.
TS: In the clubs?
WP: Well you have to be sure the club-life that you’re going to portray in the movie is authentic. And you need to know how it works.
TS: I went to bed early.
Will there be a Ride Along 3? Have you already started planning another film?
WP: Are you trying to jinx us? You want us to come and say that we’re so excited about Ride Along 2, that we’ve already begun thinking about Ride Along 3? That we’ve already figured out how we’re going to bring the guys back together again and take them to a new location, maybe internationally (laughs). Is that what you’re asking us?
TS: We’re not even going to think about that.
WP: There’s no way I can answer a question like that!
What was it like watching this film with an audience for the first time?
TS: It’s the best. When you finally are able to give it over to the audience and have them see it for the first time, it’s great. You watch the movie so many times, sometimes you can think: ‘Okay, is that still funny? Does that work?’ Once you put it in front of an audience they tell you that you might have something that just might work.
Final question. On the first film, you had a lot of extras packed into the DVD. What are you planning for the sequel?
WP: We did something really cool with this DVD – a roundtable, free-flowing, informal conversation with myself, Tim Story, Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, where we were just kind of like riffing. There was no moderator. We were just talking with each other and being really real about what it’s like to make these movies and what it’s like to work together. I thought that was kind of cool. And you can only see that on the Ride Along 2 DVD. So that’s going to be cool. That’s something to look out for.
RIDE ALONG 2 IS OUT ON DIGITAL HD FROM MAY 16 AND BLU-RAY AND DVD FROM MAY 30