Tag Archives: Kevin Hart

I Don’t

The Wedding Ringer

by Hope Madden

Kevin Hart bears a terrible burden in Hollywood. After salvaging a number of mediocre-to-poor films by sheer virtue of his manic comic talent, Hart has been sentenced to a lifetime of awful scripts and off-peak release dates. Got a weak-to-terrible comedy? Stick Hart in it and release it in January when there’s nothing else to see. Maybe it can be the next Ride Along.

Such is the case with The Wedding Ringer. In what amounts to I Love You, Man meets Hitch, Hart plays a best man for hire. Josh Gad plays the lovable dork about to marry up who has no friends to speak of. He needs to drum up 7 groomsmen to keep from admitting his loserhood to his bride-to-be (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting).

Oh, but it’s more than that. The Wedding Ringer is the cautionary tale of a man who failed to uphold the sacred man-vow: bros before hos.

How quickly you tire of The Wedding Ringer depends largely on your tolerance for gay jokes and misogynistic humor. Even if you’re a big fan of both, eventually the film’s lazy scripting, derivative plotting and general mean-spiritedness will likely turn you off. It’s hard to believe this dreck came from the same writing/directing team that brought us The Break Up – hardly a masterpiece, but at least a competently written and well acted comedy.

To be fair, this film contains a handful of real laughs, and Hart and Gad – another proven comic talent – have genuine chemistry. But every gag drags on minutes longer than necessary, and most zag into territory too unimaginative to be provocative in its tastelessness.

What if a romantic (or, in this case, bro-mantic) comedy chose not to depict the story of a schlubby guy who deserves help to nab a vacuous hottie? What if, instead, the film paired this decent, funny, worthy-if-overweight and nerdy fella with an equally overweight, worthy, decent woman? I would die of a coronary, that’s what would happen – but I’m probably safe, because where in Hollywood would they find the female lead?

A good movie for Kevin Hart may be just as unlikely, but I would love to see what he could do with a decent script.

 

Verdict-1-5-Stars

Think Seriously About Skipping This

Think Like a Man Too

by Hope Madden

The single most surprising thing about 2012’s Think Like a Man may have been that I did not hate it. The film identifies five potential couples, highlights relationship flaws, then advises the women on how to re-train and trap their men.

Gross.

And yet, as the misguided, sexist, illogical “comedy” unfurled, I began to believe that Kevin Hart could perhaps save any bad film by virtue of his inexhaustible humor.

This theory has been put to the test, as it appears the poor man is destined never to get a script for anything other than a bad movie: Ride Along, About Last Night, Grudge Match – good Lord, Grudge Match!

So, while Hart proves his own talent time and again, he’s also proven that no one human man can possibly save every bad movie director Tim Story wants to make. Case in point: Think Like a Man Too.

We check back in on all the happy couples of the previous installment as they meet in Vegas for one duo’s nuptials. But first, they will divide on gender lines for bachelor/bachelorette parties.

Nothing says fresh like a bachelor party movie set in Vegas.

Actually, stale is an excellent word to describe this lifeless retread. Story regurgitates every overused image and idea from about a dozen movies and a lengthy Vegas ad campaign. Do you think there’s an ultra-luxurious suite? How about some glamorous poolside action? Gambling antics? Rain Man mentions?

Don’t tell me there are strippers?!!

Why, yes, you can expect drunken debauchery (though nothing too raunchy that it can’t be forgiven) that leads to a race to make the ceremony.

I swear to God, it wouldn’t have surprised me to find out there was a tiger in the bathroom.

You know what might have been interesting? An Omaha wedding.

Instead, we get more and more and excruciatingly more of the same, shoveled shamelessly at us in the hopes that Hart can somehow make it funny.

Well, he can’t. The man is not superhuman. And that means there’s nothing at all to distract you from everything that is wrong with this film – which is everything.

 

Verdict-1-5-Stars

 

 

About Half

 

by George Wolf

 

About Last Night opens cold to the funky sound of James Brown’s “Sex Machine,” which is good because a) that song is awesome and b) it lets you know this remake has more “movin’, doin’ it, you know” on the brain than the 1986 original.

Of course, both films are based on David Mamet’s 1974 play Sexual Perversity in Chicago, though Mamet long ago dismissed its move to the big screen, recalling his selling of the work an act of “a callow youth.”

This latest adaptation strays even farther from the source work, as the setting moves West to LA, where buddies Danny (Michael Ealy) and Bernie (Kevin Hart) sell restaurant supplies by day and hit the bars in search of hookups by night.

While Bernie is enjoying a new sex kitten named Joan (Regina Hall), Danny is still hurting from a recent breakup. So, why not make it a double date with Joan’s friend Debbie (Joy Bryant) and see what happens? Well, we know what happens, but the setup underscores the fact that this time out, Debbie and Danny aren’t really the main attraction.

Whether that decision was made before casting the role of Bernie or not, Hart simply owns this movie. He’s fast, frenetic, charismatic and often uproarious, with Hall nearly matching him step for step in their raunchy back and forth. The Bernie and Joan characters were never made a couple before, but here, they are the only couple we care about.

Bryant and Ealy may both be great looking, but beyond a physical attraction, nothing about Debbie and Danny rings true.

Director Steve Pink (Hot Tub Time Machine) and screenwriter Leslye Headland (Bachelorette) want to make their film funny, while still keeping the original focus on the complexities of modern relationships. The funny works, nothing else does.

The Debbie/Danny love story ventures only surface deep, giving the entire relationship a rushed feel that brings no emotion to the highs and lows of their life together. Flat performances from both Bryant and Ealy don’t help, nor does a disastrous cameo from Paula Patton as Danny’s ex, proving once again she has zero comic timing.

Thanks to Hart and Hall, about half of About Last Night is a damn funny sex comedy.

The rest may leave you hating yourself in the morning.

 

Verdict-2-5-Stars

 

 

 

Thanks Anyway, I’ll Walk

 

by George Wolf

 

In 1982, a young Eddie Murphy made his film debut in 48 Hours, a funny,  action-filled cop caper that instantly launched him toward household name status.

Ride Along feels like an attempt to rewrite that film, and that history, to the benefit of Kevin Hart.

Okay, so Hart is hardly a newbie, and he’s proven himself to be a very funny guy through numerous supporting roles and one documentary/ concert film (Laugh at My Pain, 2011). But here, though he gets most of the screen time as part of a wannabe action/comedy, he’s on his own more than Murphy’s Reggie Hammond was in that redneck bar

Hart plays Ben, a security guard in Atlanta who has ambitions of being a police officer. When he finally gets accepted to the academy, Ben thinks it’s time to pop the question to longtime love Angela (Tika Sumpter, in a role that’s little more than eye candy.) Trouble is, Angela’s brother James (Ice Cube) is already a street-smart cop, and he thinks Ben isn’t worthy of his sister or a badge.

The answer is a “ride along,” and Ben jumps at the offer to join his future brother-in-law on his duties for a day, in hopes of convincing James to give the marriage his blessing. Ladies, maybe one day you’ll be able to get hitched without a man’s approval, but today is not that day!

The script comes from a committee of writers, with various credits including Employee of the Month, The Tuxedo, and last year’s R.I.P.D.

Wait, didn’t they all suck?

Yes, they did, and Ride Along would be equally bad, except for the efforts of Hart.  Director Tim Story‘s main strategy comes straight outta Cleveland in the LeBron days:  just go trough the motions and wait for the star to bail everybody out. Hart tries his best, and single-handedly delivers a few good moments of physical comedy, but it’s not nearly enough.

Kevin Hart may still get his trip to household stardom, but Ride Along is too lazy take him there.

 

 

Verdict-2-0-Stars

 

 

You’ll Hold a Grudge

Grudge Match

by Hope Madden

It’s a tough battle. The late-life Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro battle hard. They sweat! They flail! They struggle against the stiff competition – I mean, do you remember RIPD? What about After Earth or Grown Ups 2? But, at long last, De Niro and Stallone walk out of that ring triumphant, in that they succeeded in crafting the worst film of 2013. Good on ya, guys!

De Niro has been whoring out – I mean, lampooning – his own image for decades, but it’s a row Stallone only accidentally began hoeing recently with his inadvertently comical The Expendables. Here, the two articulate the real tragedy of their waning professional years by reminding us all just how fine Raging Bull and Rocky really are.

In case you missed its countless ads, Grudge Match casts De Niro and Stallone as aging boxers lured into a rematch by Kevin Hart, who is actually funny. He’s not funny here, but there’s only so much a person can do.

Alan Arkin also tries really hard to salvage his scenes with his talent and solid comic timing. Unfortunately, he shares these scenes with Stallone, who is to comedy what Fox News is to journalism. The nine of us who saw Stop or My Mom will Shoot can attest to this – those of us unscarred enough by the experience to speak of it.

De Niro makes you weep for the glory of Raging Bull and the tragedy of lost artistic integrity. Meanwhile Stallone – whose artistic integrity was always pretty suspect – punch-jogs around urban Pennsylvania, trains with a curmudgeonly old man, drinks raw eggs. You see where this is going. It ain’t good.

But how can he go wrong with this script? Two old guys fighting! They don’t know what YouTube is – isn’t that hilarious? They probably have rotary phones and listen to 8 tracks, too. Comedy gold.

If 90 minutes of ridiculing our elderly isn’t entertainment enough for you, you will need to look elsewhere. In fact, the only reason you should be looking here is if you really hate Robert De Niro and/or Sylvester Stallone and ache to see them embarrass themselves for a paycheck, playing two men willing to embarrass themselves for  a paycheck.

So, I suppose you really could call Grudge Match the case of life imitating art, which is absolutely the only way the word “art” makes it into a description of this movie.

 

Verdict-1-0-Star