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Thursday, July 18, 2013 08:23 am

Explain reveals Hart to be a lightweight

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I was prepared for Kevin Hart not to be the next Richard Pryor but that he doesn’t have the chops to fill Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle’s shoes is a grave disappointment. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain is the comic’s first concert film, one that shows him in performance at New York’s Madison Square Garden, thrilling his obviously adoring fans with one slight comic riff after another. As a humorous set, it has its moments – as a movie, it hardly qualifies as such. Running a scant 75 minutes, only 55 of which feature Hart on stage, the movie is nothing more than a testimonial about how great a comedian the performer is and that he is not only beloved in the States but also abroad. Twenty minutes of the film is spent convincing the uninitiated that that not only is the comic a hot commodity overseas but brilliant as well – as his many loyal fans attest to on camera. The rest is devoted to Hart lamenting the problems that have plagued him since his success, something that he seems ill-prepared to handle what with all of the complaining he does throughout.

Needless to say, Hart’s style is hardly worthy of the hype, His set is a narcissistic rant in which we are suppose to sympathize with him over the fact that his marriage ended in divorce due to his cheating (for the record, he feels no regret for having been unfaithful but is angry that he got caught), that he may have to deal with the prospect of being replaced in his children’s lives by a stepfather and that he’s being misrepresented in the press. All of these may be legitimate complaints from the comedian’s point of view and while they may amuse some in the audience as a result he keeps at arm’s length as he never comments on anything that we can relate to.

Equally troubling is Hart’s persona of an immature man-child who fails to take responsibility for his actions and regards women in a less than enlightened manner. None of the difficulties he has to deal with are ever his fault as he justifies all of his bad decisions or blames someone else for his troubles. That he refers to all women in a derogatory manner only underscores his immaturity as a man and lack of true invention as a comic.

To be sure there are some humorous moments. When Hart recounts how and why he had to fire numerous bodyguards or is discussing where he is in the celebrity hierarchy, he does show a bit of invention and proves to be at his most accessible when recounting experiences with his son, in particular a story in which he has to stand back and watch his son get beat up without interfering. This is a common occurrence for most parents but it’s hardly a groundbreaking observation. Whereas George Carlin, Pryor, Rock and Chappelle told personal stories as well, they also provided sharp-edged, angry commentary on social issues of the day. Railing against corporate greed, gun control, abortion, censorship and racism is the way to become a comic that not only entertains an audience but also makes them think. While he might be able to entertain his followers with regaling them about how crazy women are, as long as Hart limits himself to such subjects he’ll hardly be deemed as an important or groundbreaking comic.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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