Movie Review - Kevin Hart: What Now

Kevin Hart is a record-breaker. He has been defying expectations for a while. As an African-American comedian trying to establish himself, that certainly helped. His on-stage persona is loud and abrasive. His voice can often be annoying and one can either be charmed or turned off by his jackhammer, nails-on-chalkboard, rapid-fire delivery. As an actor, he mostly just transplants that same persona on screen. He doesn't act. He seemingly can't act beyond that persona. He's certainly not like Eddie Murphy who can do impressions and really portray characters. He's not even Chris Rock who isn't the greatest actor but who is a smart and very sharp writer.

Hart tamped down that loud and abrasive persona for his previous film and summer hit Central Intelligence, opposite Dwayne Johnson. He was mainly the straight man. It was a departure that represented potential growth for Hart. Unfortunately, none of that growth is evident here. What we see is typical Hart that either you'll accept or not. It's clear that at least 53,000 people accepted it. That's the round number for how many tickets were sold in this one-time event. Hart performed at Lincoln Financial Field, the huge football stadium in Philadelphia. That event was sold out, which was one for the record books.

It's just him alone doing stand-up. He does some interesting things with his lighting design, as well as still images and graphics in the huge monitors behind him on stage. Other than that, it's Hart taking us into issues with his domestic life. Topics include things that scare him about his mansion-like home, things that bother him about his family, particularly his children, things that would make him or anyone leave or give up on their significant others and things he hates about Starbucks. He has recurring gags about injuries from animal attacks and how black women don't believe anything.

If there is a theme to this stand-up special, it's probably that he doesn't give a shit, as he says. It's part of his on-stage persona that he has little patience for a lot of human behaviors, or little empathy for empathy. He has a hardcore realness and is the ultimate straight-shooter. Yet, for some reason, many of his jokes felt stale or ones I'd heard him do before. I don't know why but his opening joke about a raccoon felt old-hat. His joke about the "pocket pussy" felt old as well, but mainly because the TV series Blue Mountain State did a joke about it that was a million times better.

The audience reaction shots were a lot funnier than a lot of the punchlines that Hart was dropping. The only time I truly laughed was during the framework for his stand-up act, which a lot of stand-up specials do. It's a James Bond spoof. It involved Don Cheadle who has a hilarious but ultimately brief bit. Cheadle made me laugh. What does it say about a Kevin Hart movie where the one thing that made me laugh was not Kevin Hart?

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated R for some sexual material, and language throughout.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 36 mins.

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