Simply a case of no can do for hard-working 'Ride' cast

March 30, 1998|By Chris Hewitt | Chris Hewitt,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

How far can a cast of fresh actors take crummy material?

The question is asked and answered in "Ride": farther than you'd think, but not far enough. First off, it's not the "Love Jones"-style romantic comedy it appears to be in the ads. Instead, it's a crass, stereotypical road comedy with more than anyone's share of bathroom jokes.

That bathroom is located on a funky-smelling bus, traveling from New York to Miami. Going in and out of the bathroom are a dozen young people who've been booked to appear in a low-budget rap video, accompanied by father-figure Malik Yoba, who breaks up fights, eschews pork and delivers empowerment lectures. It's the Sidney Poitier role, and he's good in it.

The whole cast is terrific when they spontaneously break into "Let's Stay Together." Idalis DeLeon, who used to be simply "Idalis" on MTV, is funny.

And Kellie Williams is real and unexpectedly moving as a woman who finds out she's busing it for two.

Admittedly, their material isn't much, and neither is "Downtown" Julie Brown, playing a creep and periodically using an American accent. But any movie that repeatedly makes fun of that musical Xeroxer Puff Daddy has at least a little something going for it.

'Ride'

Starring Malik Yoba

Directed by Millicent Shelton

Released by Dimension Films

Rated R (raw language)

Sun Score: **

Pub Date: 3/28/98

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