Photo: ‘Me Time’
You got to give Kevin Hart credit. Apart from his busy schedule as a commercial spokesperson for various brands, the stand-up comic, and actor manages to headline seemingly every mid-to-high budget movie that Netflix has ever made. Following the ‘The Man from Toronto’ last month, Hart returns to work as the co-led of a Netflix bromance original in ‘Me Time’ alongside Mark Wahlberg.
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The Hart x Wahlberg casting seems now like it was an inevitability for quite some time, as each has carried his weight in studio comedies before. It was only a matter of time until Hollywood’s Rubik’s cube of casting paired the two. They have a surprisingly easy chemistry, and despite almost no backstory of their friendship, they play believable age-old friends. Hart‘s performance has a clear influence from his stand-up act, where he plays arenas as a de-fanged father who tells parenting stories. Whereas Wahlberg plays a new-age party animal who’s somehow professionally successful enough to support his outrageous spending habits
The first time we meet Sonny (Kevin Hart) is at one of Huck’s (Mark Wahlberg) insane birthday celebrations —this time it’s wingsuit flying through the Utah canyons – where it’s clear that Sonny is beginning to put his crazy past behind him. “I get it,” says Huck, “You’re getting married. You gotta be more responsible.” Huck, though, is that one friend that always finds a way to stir up some trouble, ironically a bit more like Tom Sawyer than Huck Finn. Despite Sonny’s protestations, he ends up airborne with Huck, and they’re along for the ride together, demonstrating their dynamic, and setting up what is to come in the movie: Sonny is in over his head, while Huck obliviously drags him along on his insanity.
Stay At Home
Nowadays, though, Sonny is as danger free as it gets, and staying far away from any of Huck’s parties. He’s a stay-at-home dad who is on top of it: the school, chores, the EpiPen’s, the keyboard lessons for the kids. He’ll even start building his son Dash’s Lego Death Star if no one is looking. Sonny likes what he does, or at least he’s fallen into a comfort zone where he thrives. He’s especially excited about the upcoming school talent show that he’s producing, where he’s hoping Dash will play the keyboard and make him proud. Once upon a time, Sonny had been a musician himself, and is doing what he can to coach his own kids into greatness, as he constantly tells them he is raising them to be.
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His wife Maya (Regina Hall) is a successful architect, who’s employed by Armando (Luis Gerardo Mendez), an eccentric, tortoise loving billionaire who may have more than just business on his mind. That bothers Sonny, but what doesn’t bother Sonny nearly as much as his status as stay at home dad, despite some of the jokes from other parents at school, and his own son’s insistence that they get a minivan with automatic doors, like another dad. Sonny is an excellent father, encouraging, upbeat. Doting but stern when he has to be, always looking for what’s best for his kids. It’s a refreshing twist on the routine emasculation narrative that is part and parcel of a story like this, where the humor comes from a big strong man being forced to essentially be a housewife. However, another dad, Alan (played by the great comic actor Andrew Santino) scares Sonny straight when he warns that if Sonny doesn’t get a life outside his kids and the school, he’ll turn into Crossing Guard Lenore — a former school mom whose life since her kids left has become reflective vests and traffic cones.
Sonny and Maya decide that Sonny needs some “Me Time,” so she takes the kids to her parents’ house and lets Sonny do his thing for a week. Inevitably, that means Sonny and Huck will reunite, as Huck’s birthday “the big Four-Four” is here.
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‘Me Time’ – Watch or Not?
In the movie, Sonny is the lesser of the two men, but the big comedic alpha. Hart possesses a rare ability to make you, your kids, and your parents laugh in any scene he has to. He has an actor’s sensibility for comedy, but a standup’s wit, which makes for fluid and catch-you-off-guard laughs throughout. Hart is excellent at conveying an over-the-top intensity that belies his intimidation factor, while also playing a competent hapless loser in other scenes. Wahlberg, too, is a seasoned veteran when it comes to the buddy comedy, and, to foil Hart’s sometimes boisterous Sonny, makes his comedic money on being a muscular sort of “himbo” who just goes with the flow.
It’s light, silly, often cringe-worthy, but like Huck, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and has a good heart. Sonny learns about himself and finds the life he wants to live, Huck never changes, and the talent show goes well because he learns to let his son be himself (suspiciously, Dash’s love for standup outweighs his father’s pressuring into the dream he laid out for him. Despite the fact that Kevin Hart wrestles with a comically bad CGI’d mountain lion, it’s mostly fun the whole way.
‘Me Time’ knows that you could be spending your hour and a half doing anything else, so you might as well have a good time if you choose to watch this throwaway, ultimately forgettable Netflix original movie. It is a bad movie that never had any intentions of being a good one, which is, at least, non-pretentious fun. All ends well and good in ‘Me Time’ in a procedural Netflix effort that knew to anchor a-just-above-average script with big names who know the role. It has the wherewithal to give you the vaguely positive story you want while inverting just enough social norms to be produced in 2022. Everything about it is perfunctory, but with the talent involved, it works.
You can catch Kevin Hart in the upcoming ‘Borderlands’, while Wahlberg can be seen as a recovered sinner turned priest in ‘Father Stu’ out now.
CAST AND CREW:
Writer: John Hamburg | Director: John Hamburg
Cast: Kevin Hart, Mark Wahlberg, Regina Hall, Luis Gerardo Mendez
Produced by: Patricia Braga, Joe Gatta, John Hamburg, Kevin Hart, Lauren Hennessey, Mark Moran, Bryan Smiley
By Patrick Lynott
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Patrick Lynott is a writer and screenwriter. He cares about Cinema. He cares about meaningful stories. And he cares about preserving and elevating things that people work long and hard on.Despite the incessant barrage of “content” vying for his (and everyone’s) attention, he believes it’s never been more important to pedestalize labors of real art across from a spectrum of voices. The Hollywood Insider is one of the few networks committed to doing this through substantive coverage of quality entertainment. The future of good Cinema and healthy culture relies on outlets and people willing to champion those values. Here’s to that future.