There’s an argument to be made, if you’re feeling charitable, that no dumb comedy is ever truly too dumb, that there’s endless room in the world of streaming, and our brains, for the low-risk gamble of stupid comedy. In general, that’s probably true. But you have to be truly willing to sink an hour and forty minutes into the nowhere hole to get through Me Time, in which Kevin Hart plays a put-upon dad who opts, against his better judgment, to embark on a crazy birthday adventure with his oldest friend, irresponsible bachelor Mark Wahlberg. Dumb comedies are valuable because they allow us to turn off our brains for a while. But with the trillions of entertainment options available today, we can all afford to be a little more discriminating in how low we’re willing to stoop, and Me Time sets the bar around ankle height.
Written and directed by John Hamburg (Along Came Polly, I Love You, Man), this is essentially a comedy about male insecurities, as viable a theme as any. Hart plays Sonny Fisher of Sherman Oaks, who takes wonderful care of his two grade-school-age kids while his architect wife Maya (Regina Hall) brings home the bacon. The setup seems great, but Sonny is feeling threatened by Maya’s biggest client, toothbrush czar Armando (Luis Gerardo Méndez), who’s planning to build a tortoise sanctuary with his riches. Maya and Armando get along fabulously; Sonny feels left out and worthless. Still, when Wahlberg’s Huck Dembo—admittedly, a ridiculously fabulous character name—invites Sonny to his 44th birthday bash, Sonny opts out. He’s a family man now, and has little interest in the nonsense the duo used to get up to, like jumping off mountain ledges in flying-squirrel suits. We see this in an early flashback scene, in which Sonny, against his better judgment, goes flying into a vast cavern of mountain-fresh air yelling, “Yaaaahhhhhhhhhh!” the sort of accidental-he-man goofball thing Hart is particularly good at. It’s a stock move, yet somehow he still makes it funny.
But even if Sonny thinks he’s outgrown his friendship with Huck, plans change. Somehow, when Maya offers to take the kids to her parents’ house for a vacation, Sonny ends up on the special bus Huck has outfitted for his big blowout—there’s a grinning image of himself emblazoned on the side, along with the words “Let’s Get Hucked Up.” Huck has planned a mini Burning Man-style extravaganza in the desert. All of Huck’s friends are much younger, a bevy of youthful partiers in cargo shorts and bikini tops; he’s not interested in settling down just yet. (He tells Sonny he’s following “the Clooney Plan,” figuring he’ll play out the single life until he’s in his fifties, after which he’ll meet a beautiful, accomplished woman and father some twins.) Sonny feels understandably out of place in this setting, though he tries to be a good sport. While doing so, he manages to piss off a mother mountain lion, who chases him angrily down a trail of rocks and bushes. “I got a lion on my ass!” Sonny yells as he runs, yet another variation on the stock Hart thing that he does so well.
As you can probably guess, things get crazier from there. Some of Sonny and Huck’s antics are so ridiculous they might make you laugh in spite of yourself: they break into Armando’s compound and, after thinking better of setting one of his beloved tortoises free, they instead decide to go into his mansion and mess things up. This involves emptying the contents of Armando’s spice rack into the garbage, stealing only the left shoe from each pair lined up in the closet, and leaving a tiny poop, which Sonny has dutifully squeezed out, on the bed. “That’s it?” Huck says when he sees the fruit of Sonny’s labor. “It’s like a hotel-pillow mint.”
OK, I laughed at that one. One must take joy where one can find it. But Wahlberg, whose controversial past includes an assault and being accused of making racist attacks, although he has acknowledged in recent years that he’s made mistakes, will have to work harder than this to earn redemption. While it may make people feel better to tear into his acting skills, he has often been terrific in both dramatic and comedy roles (The Other Guys, Boogie Nights)—though viewing audiences, like actors, are only human, and anyone could be forgiven for not feeling great about watching Wahlberg today. That means Hart has to carry most of the show here, which he’s more than capable of doing. But even in a dumb comedy, there’s only so much dumbness most of us can take. You’ll need to assess your own threshold before embarking on Me Time, especially if your own me time is in short supply.
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