Stereotypecast: Kevin Hart plays Kevin Hart all over again
The comedian is up to his old familiar antics
Kevin Hart seems to be everywhere; there is no escaping the world’s highest paid comedian. The release of Night School means you’re likely to be exposed to him for some time to come. But that may not be the worst thing ever.
Hart’s latest attempt at convincing people to watch movies in cinemas instead of illegally downloading them sees him as Teddy Walker, an over-indebted braai stand salesman whose fragile ego would rather see him sprinkle pubic hair on his food in an attempt to dodge the bill than let his more successful girlfriend pay for dinner.
Thanks to some amusing high jinks involving a proposal, an explosion and a shattered windscreen, Walker is forced to go to night school to get the equivalent of his matric certificate. It kicks off a series of misadventures revolving around his plethora of learning disabilities and his night school teacher, played by Tiffany Haddish.
Watching this movie it quickly becomes apparent why Hart and The Rock are bosom buddies. Over the years both have carved careers making tent pole movies in which they essentially play caricatures of themselves. Hart’s role in Night School is no exception. It is a little over two hours of Kevin Hart doing his best impression of Kevin Hart, including all the mannerisms and phrases anyone familiar with his stand-up routines will know well. The thing about Hart, though, is that his brand of comedy is like McDonald’s at 3am: delicious at the time and filling so long as you leave your pretensions at the window of the drive-through.
It is obvious this film was made to a formula. People clearly sat down together and said how can we weave together enough standard elements of a comedy and package it in a “fresh” way. The person who said “fresh” almost certainly worked for a marketing department, and once their recipe for cinematic macaroni and cheese was ready, shooting commenced. The thing about mac and cheese is that it’s good. People like it for a reason and if you make it well it will leave a smile on your face. The addition of Tiffany Haddish to this particular recipe was also a nice touch. There is very little Haddish can do wrong at the moment and she fills the abdominals with hearty giggles throughout the movie.
The movie has no major flaws if you watch it for the right reasons. Sure it is formulaic, the characters are one-dimensional and stereotypical, and the plot has as much depth as a frying pan – but no one is going to watch a Kevin Hart for highbrow entertainment. As a 111-minute distraction it does its job admirably. You’ll laugh in the right places and almost feel warm and fuzzy when the inevitable happy ending arrives.
Is it worth the price of admission? That depends. If you paid to watch any of the last few entries in the Fast and Furious franchise, then definitely. If, on the other hand, you paid to watch the European Film Festival earlier this year, then the concept of a Kevin Hart movie is abhorrent to you and you’ve wasted your time here. If you occupy a middle ground between being a fan of Fast 5 and a beret-wearing cinephile, then get someone else to pay for your ticket. You’ll get a good chuckle while ensuring that your wallet continues to aid and abet your burgeoning snobbery.