|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.