[Screen It]


(2016) (Kevin Hart, Halle Berry) (R)

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Comedy Concert: Comedian Kevin Hart covers a number of topics in a politically incorrect comedy concert.
Following a brief James Bond sort of opening sequence where he plays a Bond type agent alongside Halle Berry (HERSELF) and competes against Don Cheadle (HIMSELF), Kevin Hart (HIMSELF) puts on a politically incorrect comedy concert in Philadelphia where he covers a number of topics related to himself and his family life.
OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
When reviewing any normal movie, regardless of the genre in which it falls, a critic must observe a myriad of elements that go into the final product. Everything starts with the script (go screenwriters!) and no matter how decent or even excellent anything else might be, without good writing, there's little chance of success.

There's also the direction, obviously the acting, the score and all of the various tech credits ranging from editing to cinematography, costume design, production design and so on. Simply put, there's a lot to observe and make judgments about the success or not in those various fields.

Sometimes you get "movies" where not so much is in play, such as filmed concerts, be they of the music or standup comedy variety. While there's obviously direction, cinematography and editing, and possibly some degree of writing, the main focus is on the act itself. For music, that boils down to whether it gets your foot tapping and head bobbing, and for comedy whether it elicits laughs.

Of course, both sorts of offerings fall far more squarely in the eye and ear of the beholder than regular films (where one can appreciate the artistry but perhaps not like the subject matter), but if no one in the movie theater is laughing at a comedy, you know it's failed. In that regard, Kevin Hart's latest comedy concert film, "Kevin Hart: What Now?" certainly succeeds.

As a disclaimer, I haven't seen his previous concert films including 2013's "Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain" or 2011's "Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain," but I'm certainly familiar with the actor and his style of comedy present in the various films in which he's appeared over the years. This one was filmed a year ago in front of a crowd of more than 50,000 people at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field.

It begins with what's actually its best part, at least in my opinion. And that's a brief goofball type sequence that mimics a James Bond film, complete with opening credits done like a Bond flick. Following that, we see Hart playing himself as Agent 54 who's involved in a high-stakes game of poker against Don Cheadle (playing himself), while Hart's agent partner (Halle Berry playing herself, but sort of reprising her "Bond girl" character from years ago) looks on. It's all done over the top (including some bloody violence), but has some truly funny moments including characters commenting on the subtitles appearing below and in front of them, showing they're self-aware.

That somewhat abruptly segues into a trip to the stadium for the concert where Hart then does the normal standup comedy routine in front of the huge crowd that's certainly primed for and expecting a good time. While it's not the best such comedy concert film I've ever seen, it certainly has plenty of laughs as Hart bases most of the bits on his domestic life.

That includes talk of living in the 'burbs of L.A. where a mountain lion attack or raccoon based "hold up" could be pending during the taking out of the trash; worries that his son is growing up spoiled without any sort or sense of streetwise smarts; and what happens when people Hart's age end up coming home in the morning, not following an affair or other such behavior, but a ping pong tournament.

Other bits include sexually related humor on varying fronts and what might be the most inspired moment of them all, his reaction to ordering coffee from Starbucks for the first time and being overwhelmed by the options and related lingo.

Like any decent comedian, he keeps the stories going and weaves bits from previous jokes back into the current ones. I don't recall busting a gut at any of the material (probably due to having to write down all of the entries for the parental content portion of the review), but did laugh at various points throughout. If you're a big fan of Hart and his style of comedy, I'm sure you're going to love it.

If not and if you grew up on the likes of Pryor, Carlin, Murphy and others, this might not come off as brilliant, but it's still an enjoyable enough diversion if you don't mind the decidedly adult humor. "Kevin Hart: What Now?" rates as a 6 out of 10.

Reviewed October 11, 2016 / Posted October 14, 2016

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