Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: First Trailer For Gillian Flynn's 'Dark Places' Starring Charlize Theron, Chloë Moretz, And Nicholas Hoult Watch: First Trailer For Gillian Flynn's 'Dark Places' Starring Charlize Theron, Chloë Moretz, And Nicholas Hoult Review: Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie,' Starring Die Antwoord, Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver And Hugh Jackman Review: Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie,' Starring Die Antwoord, Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver And Hugh Jackman 'Chappie' Actor Admits There Was "Tension" On Set With Die Antwoord's Ninja; Check Out Two New Featurettes 'Chappie' Actor Admits There Was "Tension" On Set With Die Antwoord's Ninja; Check Out Two New Featurettes Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Actor Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Actor Contenders 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

Review: Kevin Hart's New Stand-Up Movie 'Let Me Explain'

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist July 3, 2013 at 4:46PM

Typically summer is the season for giant space ships and costumed superheroes and explosions that are so lovingly reproduced in the theater that you can feel your fillings rattling inside your teeth. It is not, typically, the season for low budget concert comedy specials. Kevin Hart, whose new concert film "Let Me Explain," opens this week against Disney's "The Lone Ranger" (budget: $250 million) and Universal's animated "Despicable Me 2" (budget: $76 million), seems to understand this. At the very beginning of his new movie, which lasts a little over an hour, Hart says that he recently saw a Jay-Z/Kanye West concert in which flames erupted out of the stage in giant pillars. He summons similar flames for his show with the magic words, "Let's get some fire on these bitches." And the flames come. But those aren't the only pyrotechnics on display in "Let Me Explain." Hart, one of the most talented and successful comedians working today, can make you laugh. And laugh hard. In "Let Me Explain," he's on fire.
2
Kevin Hart Let Me Explain

Typically, summer is the season for giant space ships and costumed superheroes and explosions that are so lovingly reproduced in the theater that you can feel your fillings rattling inside your teeth. It is not, typically, the season for low-budget concert comedy specials. Kevin Hart, whose new concert film "Let Me Explain" opens this week against Disney's "The Lone Ranger" (budget: $250 million) and Universal's animated "Despicable Me 2" (budget: $76 million), seems to understand this. At the very beginning of his new movie, which lasts a little over an hour, Hart says that he recently saw a Jay-Z/Kanye West concert in which flames erupted out of the stage in giant pillars. He summons similar flames for his show with the magic words, "Let's get some fire on these bitches." And the flames come, but those aren't the only pyrotechnics on display in "Let Me Explain." Hart, one of the most talented and successful comedians working today, can make you laugh. And laugh hard. In "Let Me Explain," he's on fire.

"Let Me Explain" opens with a brief travelogue, chronicling Hart's latest tour in whirlwind fashion. You see him travel to different parts of the world and it's somewhat heartening, almost uplifting, to see a black comedian accepted in so many diverse locations. Of course, the schmaltz is implied, never focused on, and you get Hart bickering with his entourage about how much it'll cost them if they decide to poop on the tour bus. A little of this goes a long way, though, and as funny as Hart is just hanging out, you long (hanker) for him to just get on stage and rip shit up already. (It thankfully doesn't get bogged in the autobiographical pseudo-documentary stuff that cluttered the opening of his last film, "Laugh At My Pain.")

As he explains at the beginning of "Let Me Explain," the purpose for this concert documentary is ostensibly about him "getting some things off my chest." While "Laugh At My Pain" is arguably funnier (there's nothing here that will tickle your funny bone like his explanation of his finances in that earlier film), "Let Me Explain" is more real. There's a moment where he tells a story about stepping out on his lady and thinking that his best guy friend, when quizzed about the incident over speakerphone, will handily lie, knowing that Hart's girlfriend is listening in. The friend, of course, acknowledges that Hart was out with some broad, and the abject look of terror on his face while he tells this story is something close to magical – comically exaggerated, but so true to life that you can practically feel your face making a similar expression.

Hart is an uncommonly gifted physical comedian, which rarely gets complimented. He doesn't fall down like Chevy Chase, but he's able to contort his body into knottier configurations than a mall kiosk pretzel. He's able to assume the personalities that come with this physicality – his girlfriend, his dumb-ass buddies – with a level of uncanny truth. This is where "Let Me Explain" is so powerfully funny: these stories seem ripped from his life with an almost memoirist amount of detail. In the past when Hart has talked about mistakenly hiring a grizzled ex-con to perform as SpongeBob SquarePants at his daughter's birthday party, you laughed, probably until you thought you were going to pee your jeans, but it was kind of hard to believe. In "Laugh at My Pain," it is, as the title suggests, almost painfully real.

Dressed in a reptilian leather top that evokes both stand-up-era Eddie Murphy and some kind of small dinosaur that's been unleashed from Jurassic Park, Hart cycles through his favorite topics: his ex-wife, his diminutive height, fatherhood. While his material is decidedly R-rated, he has a charming, would-you-believe-this? delivery that is never less than inviting. For some reason, Hart hasn't gotten the widespread critical acceptance of someone like Louis C.K., whose every comedic movements are fawned over by dudes in dark-rimmed glasses who study jokes like they are complex diagrams for large, seagoing vessels. Hart has been widely accepted by the mainstream and the urban audiences, who make his comedy specials both on and off the big screen a huge event; the fact that serious comedy nerds have yet to fully embrace him seems so acceptable to Hart. They're just another audience he has to win over, and he is more than up for the challenge. 

It makes you appreciate the refreshing rhythms of human speech, considering we're in a movie season in which dialogue is constantly drowned out by the sound of gunfire, laser-fire, and building-sized explosions. While "Let Me Explain" might be slightly too short for its own good (pun very much intended), it's still a welcome change of pace and a truly hilarious, heartfelt experience. Kevin Hart is someone who you could see very easily taking over the comedic universes of both stand-up and cinema (where his "Think Like A Man" was a surprise hit), and unlike those that came before him (Murphy, Dave Chappelle), it seems like Hart has a good enough head on his shoulders to be in it for the long haul. No matter the scenario, it's easy to imagine that Hart will keep bringing the heat. [A-]

This article is related to: Kevin Hart, Let Me Explain, Reviews, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates