Kevin Hart: What Now? features the excited comedian delivering some of his best work yet, and he did not need a script or narrative to do it.
Kevin Hart: What Now? is basically a theatrical version of Hart’s What Now? comedy tour, which consisted of 168 shows worldwide. This film takes place during his show at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, where he sold out the entire stadium. Before that, we get a Casino Royale parody that takes place three hours before the show, in which Hart plays the role of James Bond and Halle Berry plays his Bond Girl. Needless to say, stuff happens and Hart hits the stage.
When talking about a stand-up special, there’s no focus on the narrative because there is not one. There is one man at the center of this, and that is Kevin Hart. The stand-up portion of the film, which takes up the majority, is one gut-busting punch line and domestic story after another. Hart tackles his home life, living with his now-wife (fiancé at the time of the performance) and his two children. He talks about his fear of animals and the dark, the dynamic of his friend group, his struggle to order at Starbucks, his airport bathroom stories, and so much more. All of these stories produce some lines that catch you off guard—or at least that was my experience. I was bursting with laughter as Hart talked about the day he gave up on his kids having any “edge” to them. The special, which is credited to Hart and writers Harry Ratchford and Joey Wells, hits some truly big comedic gold mines.
All that comedy works not just because of the writing, but because Hart is such a natural born performer. He has a presence that fills that entire stadium, and he makes great use of the stage. He runs back and forth, and you can see the effort (or the sweat) he puts into his craft. The stand-up succeeds not just by the speaking but the body language. He has his body do crazy things to help illustrate the story he is talking about. He has three giant screens in the background that help play into the visual elements of his comedy as well. Leslie Small, who directed Hart’s previous stand-up special Laugh at My Pain, deserves credit for the production that is being put on.
However, the stand-up is not the only aspect of this film. This film begins and is bookended with a parody of Casino Royale that, while funny in parts, is completely unnecessary and sometimes kind of bland. These segments are directed by Hart’s Ride Along and Think Like a Man director Tim Story. In addition to Berry, Don Cheadle and Ed Helms are featured but are just there doing nothing. These segments do not add anything to what we have been waiting for: the stand-up. Granted, the beginning lasts for about 15 minutes. Afterward, it’s just nothing but belly laughs and good times.
If you are a fan of Kevin Hart, you need to see this. If you are not a fan of Kevin Hart, I would still say see this. It is a hilarious piece of stand-up comedy gold. We should start encouraging Hart to do more of these and not more Ride Alongs. | Bill Loellke