Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain will make you laugh. Hard, at times (particularly in its closing moments). What more do you need to know? We can discuss director Leslie Small’s conventional staging, critique the house-party frame story that sets up the movie, or analyze Hart’s fragile ego – which receives several solid pumps from his posse. But if you’re paying to see Let Me Explain, Hart let’s you know he appreciates your support, and he’s ready to entertain.
Mainly a concert film, Explain was recorded during the stand-up’s sold out stint in Madison Square Garden. It’s one of several sold-out shows Hart has enjoyed over the past year … which is something he illustrates (and kind of rubs in haters’ faces) by taking us on a short video jaunt to concert stops in Canada, Sweden, Amsterdam and, eventually, London, where Hart filled the O2 Arena. Impressive, though the sequences comes off as a little braggy, considering he’s preaching to people who’ve already paid money to sit in a theater and hear his jokes.
In time, Explain settles into a traditional stand-up routine, with mixed results. Hart starts the show with a confession, telling his audience that he’s happy. He isn’t. Not really. Did you know Hart recently went through a divorce? If you didn’t, you’re going to hear about it. A lot. The first half of Hart’s Explain set hacks its way through honest, uncomfortable material tied to Hart’s recent marriage troubles. Men get caught cheating. Women are mistrusting bitches. Best friends should have your back when you are lying to your spouse. Women are crazy. These observation are colored by his hurtful experiences, and probably funnier to folks who’ve shared similar pain.
Hart finally finds his groove, though, when he tables the divorce discussions and hammers down on the observational humor that helped make his a successful stand up and a household name. The comedian’s closing bits for Explain are universally funny. He goes after homeless people who invade your private space, critiques his young son’s overactive imagination, shares an hilarious anecdote about taking Ecstasy with his ex-wife and – in a routine that actually brought tears to my eyes – talks about the perils of fighting a naked man.
Let Me Explain is an odd movie. It’s decidedly short (clocking in at a mere 75 minutes), and plays to a specific but growing audience. It will entertain Hart’s fans, but the material’s dated the moment it plays. Still, films like Explain serve a similar purpose to movies like the recent Katy Perry: Part of Me or Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. It gives insight into a popular star’s creative process, and brings the current act to town so fans can see them “perform” for less money than the price of a concert ticket, so from that perspective, Explain has to be considered a success.