I’m sure “Kevin Hart: What Now?” will leave its audiences polarized into two camps: Those who aren’t fans of Kevin Hart, and those who are.
This comedy concert film is similar to the format of the classic “Eddie Murphy: Raw,” because the concert itself is framed by a brief Bond-type espionage comedy. The show opens with, and ends with, a fictional Hart, accompanied by Halle Berry as Miss Money Berry, in a situation where gambling and violence come into play (Don Cheadle, incidentally, is involved, too).
I laughed a few times during the feature comedy, but it isn’t nearly as clever, nor as coarse, as the real thing when Hart rockets to the stage by himself to deliver stand-up with a motor-mouthed frenzy, as only Hart can, to a record audience in Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia — Hart’s home town.
The concert starts out slowly, with a story about a raccoon that’s just weird — not particularly funny. This transitions into a bit in which Hart forces his son to take out the garbage, and then things often become hilarious while Hart discusses:
• How his son, a student in a private school, doesn’t have the edge that Hart did when he was a kid. Hart tells a great anecdote about reminiscing with some of his longtime buddies about people they knew who were shot when his son comes downstairs to announce that there has been a disaster: The Wi-Fi isn’t working.
• How his family decides to watch “The Conjuring” one night, and how it scares the daylights out of Hart.
• How confused and panic-stricken Hart becomes when he first visits a Starbuck’s, even though he tells his girlfriend that he’ll be just fine.
• An incident in an airport bathroom in which Hart tries to fend off a fan who insists on taking a picture at an inappropriate time.
If profanity bothers you, or you don’t want to hear, uh, intimate topics, then this isn’t the show for you. Stand-up long has been a platform for comedians’ more vulgar monologues, so for those who enjoy R-rated comedy, stand-up in particular, this probably won’t present an issue.
Director Leslie Small has helmed many other stand-up comedy films with the likes of Bill Bellamy, Mike Epps and, previously, Hart himself. He does what he can to give viewers the feeling that they are part of the audience, with some great cuts to audience members convulsed in laughter.
If you like Hart, you’ll be laughing right along with him. Really.