Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Jesse Eisenberg And Kristen Stewart Go On In The Run In Red Band Trailer For 'American Ultra' Watch: Jesse Eisenberg And Kristen Stewart Go On In The Run In Red Band Trailer For 'American Ultra' The Top 10 Films Of The 2015 Cannes Film Festival The Top 10 Films Of The 2015 Cannes Film Festival 5 Innovative Ways The Michael Fassbender/Marion Cotillard 'Macbeth' Differs From Previous Versions 5 Innovative Ways The Michael Fassbender/Marion Cotillard 'Macbeth' Differs From Previous Versions New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' Cannes Awards Winners: Jacques Audiard's 'Dheepan' Wins Palme d’Or; Rooney Mara Ties For Best Actress With ‘Carol’ Cannes Awards Winners: Jacques Audiard's 'Dheepan' Wins Palme d’Or; Rooney Mara Ties For Best Actress With ‘Carol’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen 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 10 Movies Booed At Cannes 10 Movies Booed At Cannes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

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.


E-Mail Updates