On the Train to Stardom.
Kevin Hart is one comedian many people can say they watched rise to stardom. I caught the train midway when I saw him do his thing on Comedy Central Presents a several years ago and have been following him ever since. For a man so new to the game, at the time, he had a great sense of going off the audience’s vibe, and even to this day does he remain at self-aware of the public, not letting the fame go to his head in an identifiable way.
His first theatrical comedian special titled Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain, which was released in 2011, was a passable film that would serve introductory purposes quite well, but seemed to be missing the genuine spark that his specials I’m a Grown Little Man and Seriously Funny possessed. Not to mention, the skits the film featured bordered on mildly amusing to downright tedious and unfunny. It was approximately fifty-minutes of stand-up comedy and thirty of redundant skits.
Needless to say, there was notable hesitation between me and Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, which arrives in theaters with a seemingly bigger, brasher marketing scheme than the one that Laugh at My Pain had. Especially seeing as the film opens with a setup, directed by Tim Story, similar to the one in the previous films that was downright cliche and easily-dismissible. It features Hart at a large party he is hosting, stating he’ll pay for all the alcohol and he’ll show all his guests a good time. Just when all is going good, people come up and say that he has said things he hasn’t said, done things without clear justification, and, according to a fan, is a “LAB” (“local-ass bitch” in terms of where he performs). While Hart tries to get a word in and explain his side of the story, no one lets him. He eventually demands his agent to book him a last-minute performance at Madison Square Garden in New York so he can explain his story.
What follows is Hart shedding light and revealing some scandalous things about him that made headlines recently and shows that he is definitely not a “LAB,” seeing as he has performed abroad in places like Denmark, Oslo, and Copenhagen. Then, finally, we get the concert, which is often very funny and very down-to-earth. Hart, first, introduces what he calls “pointless fire,” which is random, ten foot tall lines of fire that shoot up on Hart’s cue to add some flavor and spice to his show (he says he got the idea from a Jay-Z concert).
Hart’s topics involve being so happy you feed the pigeons in the park (which features Hart doing one of the most hilarious women-impressions I’ve heard in a while), women and their love of proving men wrong, except for one percent of the time, publicity issues he takes care of early on, and more. Let Me Explain isn’t deep by any means; it sort of treads water on being a vanity project for Hart himself seeing as he almost never directs the content and humor away from himself. However, he isn’t totally narcissistic and bravely admits and shows that he is still in touch with his roots despite his near-“global brand” name, he explains in the film.
Not to mention, much of Hart’s humor derives from his quick-witted wordplay, his hilarious, conservative use of catchphrases (first it was “Alright, alright, alright!” now it’s “No! No! No! No! No!” accompanied by a high, squeaky voice and an explanation), and his jivey-presence on a big stage. Even with a place as large and as massive as the Garden, Hart’s small-self doesn’t have much trouble catering to its enormous status.
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Check out Steven’s video review.
On a concluding note, it’s also surprising to note how emotional and strong the finale was in terms of personal-resonance. Hart tells us it’s rare for comedians to perform at the Garden and the fact that he has had this opportunity almost makes him go into a tear-session. It’s a strong, beautiful little scene that concludes the film on a remarkably close to home note that indicates what can happen if dreams succeed, as cliche as that sounds. The best thing is he doesn’t go into a “rags to riches” like memoir and keeps it simple. No need to explain on that.
Reviewed by Steve Pulaski
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