Hot Take: This is Kevin Hart as expected. If you’re a fan, you’ll enjoy.
Last year, Kevin Hart was in Philadelphia to close out his stand-up tour to a sold out crowd at Lincoln Financial Field. By doing so, he became the first comedian to perform at an at-capacity football stadium. Hart’s stand-up in front of 53,000 was turned into a stand-up comedy concert film and Kevin Hart: What Now? is the end result.
The stand-up comedy concert opens with a parody of Casino Royale featuring Hart as a James Bond type. He’s 0054 instead of 007. There’s cameos from Halle Berry, Don Cheadle and Ed Helms. The cameos — Cheadle especially — are funny. The bit? Not as much. It’s funny enough and short enough to survive a short attention span while waiting for the main event to start. Plus, you can’t really go wrong with having Berry appear, can you?
The comedy concert is impressive on its own due to the venue. Seeing a comedian playing to a sold out football stadium is a sight. It must have been something for Hart who is a Philadelphia native to sell out Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Philadelphia Eagles. Kevin Hart: What Now? Hart’s first stand-up film since ’13. While his acting career has exploded, Hart shows what sparked his budding success as a comedic lead in his latest stand up comedy concert.
For the most part, Hart is as expected. He’s ridiculously energetic. He’s also ridiculous, too. From jokes about raccoons who make vulgar gestures to self-proclaimed cowardice that includes leaving his family in danger to save himself, Hart’s comedy has changed as his life has changed. As a stand-up veteran, Hart masters the art of circling back to earlier bits throughout his performance. The only distracting thing about the concert movie are the cut-aways to the crowd enjoying the show. The diverse audience eats up Hart circling back to the point where they repeat along with him like the crowd would do a famous music artist at a pop concert.
The comedy itself has a few misses but, for the most part, Hart is hilarious. It’s also kind of funny to watch Hart portray a cowardly edge while talking about living in a palatial house in the woods, dealing with rabid fans and ordering at Starbucks. It’s unabashed and everything you’d expect from Hart. If you’re not a fan, this comedy concert won’t win you over and you’ll probably sitting there wondering why you bothered. But the Hart fans in attendance will be too busy laughing to care.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Cheadle Cameo
As mentioned in previous Hot Takes, Cheadle is one of the most underrated performers to hit the big screen. His small part in Kevin Hart: What Now? steals the show of the opening skit.
- Convoluted Storytelling
Hart tells some convoluted stories throughout his stand-up. His storytelling style has a cadence and rhythm that makes it fun and funny no matter how ridiculous the story is. It’s hard not to get caught up in the story even though you feel like he might be stretching the truth for the sake of comedy. (Even if he’s prefaced everything with “true story.”)
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- The Photos
When Hart hits the stage, his leather jacket and gold chain says one thing but then, as he begins to tell a story about needing to move and pictures of his house — basically a mansion — hit the backdrop, the comedy loses some of its edge.
- A Hart Attack
Hart is seemingly obsessed with people being attacked. From a woman with one shoulder to a man having his kneecaps removed by an out of control orangutan to a deadly shark attack, Hart has a penchant for causing harm to others (including loved ones) in his stand-up routine. They’re funny bits but there’s something a little disconcerting about relying on the mauling of others to harness a laugh.