Thursday, July 4, 2013

Despicable Me 2, Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain

Despicable Me 2
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain

The directors of “Despicable Me 2” are Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud. The names do not surprise me. This franchise is based on that inimitable Gallic sense of humor – that everybody hates.
I don’t find the Minions, as they’re called, to be especially cute or the least bit funny, but they’re by far the best thing about this plot-heavy sequel with a buffoonish villain, a nefarious scientist (Dr. Nefario, in fact) whose allegiance sways with the wind, and a truly generic (and pencil-thin) love interest (voiced by Kristen Wiig) for the reformed single father Gru (Steve Carell). I was especially struck by the needless violence throughout the overlong 100-minute runtime, which made for some audibly disquieted youngsters in my audience. “Despicable Me 2” has no charm.

I happen to loathe Spike Lee as a filmmaker, but give him his due. His “Original Kings of Comedy” set a high bar for post-Y2K comedy concert films. Limboing well under that bar is the strange hybrid “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain,” which begins with 15 minutes of pure, un-cinematic fat: videotape and YouTube testimonials from those who attended Hart’s tour stops throughout Canada, Scandinavia, and England (each of which is helpfully captioned “sold out”), intermixed with unfunny, pointless behind-the-scenes tour bus footage of Hart and his entourage. What follows – after a bizarre framing device involving attendees of a party demanding “explanations” of Hart – is an hour of footage from Hart’s two-night set at Madison Square Garden (it takes some chutzpah to release this picture at a mere 75 minutes).

I do not believe Kevin Hart is the next Richard Pryor, or Eddie Murphy, or Jim Carrey – the next superstar who will cross over from standup to Hollywood. First, there’s the small matter of his whiny, nasal, off-putting voice. More to the point, if this hour represents the highlights, I’d hate to see what was left on the cutting-room floor. Hart has one very funny sequence involving his disproportionate fear of being touched by homeless people (and the word “bum-bump”), but I (who love to laugh) sat stone-faced through long chunks of this material. And director Leslie Small’s cutaway reaction shots add nothing to the movie.

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