Magazine article Variety

Kevin Hart: What Now?

Magazine article Variety

Kevin Hart: What Now?

Article excerpt

Kevin Hart: What Now?

Directors: Leslie Small, Tim Story

Starring: Kevin Hart, Don Cheadle, Halle Berry, Ed Helms

Great stand-up comedians like Richard Pryor tend to have an inner cool calm, regardless of how wild or outrageous their jokes are. After all, they've got the audience in the palm of their hand - for 90 minutes, we're captive to the world according to them. But Kevin Hart, in the concert film "Kevin Hart: What Now?" monologues at a very different level of stand-up energy.

Pryor, the obvious godfather of the Hart style - a fusion of raging high dudgeon and scaredy-cat confession - sometimes raised his voice in the mock-scolding tones, but Hart tends to raise his voice and keep it raised. He screams and rasps and rants and talks excessively fast, as if his house were burning down. A little of this is funny, but a lot of it raises the question, Why is the new king of comedy working so hard to grab and hold our attention?

"What Now?" presents Kevin Hart as the master of his domain. The film was shot over two nights in front of a stadium audience of 53,000 at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Hart, strutting the stage, puts forth a line echoed by the film's ad campaign: that the sheer immensity of the show has set some sort of record. There's a Trumpian bravura to the boast. The truth is that the stadium setting doesn't feel quite right for stand-up - it robs the show of intimacy And Hart, as if overcompensating, blares out most of his jokes. He seems to have missed one of Pryor's crucial lessons: In a stand-up film, you play to the crowd in front of you, but you also play to the movie-theater audience. …

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