Kevin Hart: What Now? Directed by Leslie Small. Rated R. Opens Friday citywide.
Kevin Hart has achieved such massive popularity as a stand-up comedian that no one else in his field at the moment comes even close. He’s the only current comedian who can release his concerts as theatrical movies and make money at the box office, and his latest feature, Kevin Hart: What Now?, was filmed in front of 50,000 fans at a football stadium in his hometown of Philadelphia. He bookends the performance footage with a self-indulgent James Bond-style action-movie parody featuring cameos from Halle Berry, Don Cheadle and Ed Helms, for seemingly no other reason than because he can.
Hart’s huge success is actually one of the liabilities of What Now?; like many very popular comedians, he’s become too rich and famous to be easily relatable, and many of his jokes revolve around concerns (kids in private school, a driveway so long it needs its own lighting system, being hounded by fans while trying to use the bathroom) that almost no one will identify with.
At the same time, Hart remains charming and self-deprecating, and he turns every one of his rich person’s problems into a reflection on his own insecurities and inner struggles. He’s become so successful in part because he’s so likeable, and his comedy remains light and inoffensive, even when he’s unleashing a torrent of swear words. What Now? may not represent the height of Hart’s comedic cleverness (a closing bit about the difficulty of ordering at Starbucks comes off as particularly stale), but it will no doubt appeal to his devoted and ever-growing fan base.