Kevin Hart: What Now?
Universal // R // $16.34 // January 10, 2017
Review by William Harrison | posted February 26, 2017
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THE FILM:

Comedian Kevin Hart sold out the Philadelphia Eagles' Lincoln Financial Field? Reaaaalllly?! If you have seen this performance, you know I'm referencing a joke about the exaggerated responses of women when Hart tells them things. But yes, Hart did sell out the Linc on August 30, 2015, when he performed for an audience of 53,000. Fans of the comedian will certainly enjoy this high-energy, stand-up comedy, which sees Hart tackling race, parenting and sex toys. Kevin Hart: What Now? also mixes in a goofy spy story, with guest stars Halle Berry, Don Cheadle and Ed Helms. That part is also just for laughs, and the remaining live performance is about on par with that in 2013's Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain. Hart is a fairly accessible comedian: Profane without being overly vulgar, with rapid-fire energy and an endearing demeanor that crosses party lines. I am not sure how much replay value this has, but the show is worth watching.

Most comedians do not get their own theatrical movies. Those that do are among the greats. Comics Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby and Eddie Murphy are now joined by Hart, whose appeal is far-reaching enough to warrant such extravagant productions. This Philadelphia performance was the culmination of his "What Now?" tour, and the audience was one of the largest ever for a stand-up comedy show. The film, directed by Tim Story (Ride Along) and Leslie Small, opens with a 007-esque prologue about what happens before the live performance. This is moderately amusing, but mostly an excuse to watch Hart, Berry, Cheadle and others riff on the cliches of a spy story. After some explosive action, Hart lands at the stadium and begins the performance proper, which is the real reason why we are all here.

The remaining performance is entertaining but fairly by the books. Hart engages the giant audience with his exaggerated facial expressions and over-the-top delivery. He also infuses personal anecdotes, and seems very sincere when discussing his own family and friends. The content of the bits is not especially vulgar, outside of standard profanity, and Hart has an undeniably positive attitude. He is not a comedian that relies on smirk, sarcasm and personal digs to entertain, which is refreshing in a scene flush with mean-spirited comedians. The best bits here concern a talking raccoon and those aforementioned, incredulous women, Hart buying gifts for his young son, and the comedian's commentary on Starbucks and horror movies.

Story directed the bookend, cinematic scenes, and Small directed the concert portions, which are shot from seemingly endless angles. Hart is obviously very comfortable in his hometown, and the Sunday-night crowd responds well to his stories about the suburbs and marital distress. The masses even turned off their cell phones at the request of Hart. Pulling an audience away from their screens may be the comedian's most impressive performance to date. Kevin Hart: What Now? is certainly a nice alternative if you were not among the 53,000 in attendance that Sunday. I usually do not re-watch comedy specials, but you may have different habits. The performance here is recommended, but you can likely stick with a rental on the Blu-ray.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

The 2.40:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image is sharp and detailed, with excellent clarity throughout both the cinematic bookend scenes and the outdoor performance. Colors are bold and nicely saturated, and blacks are reasonably deep. Other than some minor aliasing and digital noise, I noticed nothing substantially flawed in the image.

SOUND:

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is also good. The comedy is delivered without distortion or overcrowding, and ambient effects, like crowd noise and pyrotechnics, circle the viewer. The opening provides more hefty surround and action-oriented effects with LFE support. English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles are included.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

This two-disc "combo pack" includes the Blu-ray, a DVD copy, and both iTunes and UltraViolet digital copies. The discs are packed in a standard case that is wrapped in a slipcover. Extras include an Alternate Opening (2:44/HD); Deleted and Alternate Scenes (3:02/HD); a Gag Reel (2:43/HD); the Making of a Spy Intro (6:13/HD); and On Tour With Kevin Hart (18:06 total/HD), a multi-part featurette with behind-the-scenes footage from the tour.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Kevin Hart performed for 53,000 fans at the sold-out Lincoln Financial Field back in August 2015, and that performance has been released theatrically as Kevin Hart: What Now?, which also includes lightly amusing bookend scenes in which Hart plays a 007-esque secret agent. If you like Hart, you'll enjoy this show. Rent It.



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