Kevin Hart is seriously funny. A short-statured, self-deprecating, and inventive comedian obliged to physical comedy by nature of his size, he has risen in popularity in recent years through the draw of his stand-up routines and his appearances in films such as Scary Movie 3, Along Came Polly, Soul Plane and the recent Think Like a Man. Kevin Hart also leads an ensemble group of actors in BET’s superbly entertaining Real Husbands of Hollywood – the “realest fake reality show” on television, mocking shows like Bravo’s The Real Housewives, in which Hart, along with Boris Kodjoe, Nelly, Duane Martin, J.B. Smoove, Nick Cannon, and a slew of guest celebrities, play twisted versions of themselves. In Let Me Explain, Hart completed his 80 city tour in style, selling out Madison Square Garden and lighting up a welcoming crowd.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode:
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Run Time: 1 Hr. 15 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraVioletAmaray Case with slipcase
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 10/15/2013
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
“Throughout my show you’re gonna see a bunch of pointless fire. You’re laughing…I’m dead serious…You think it’s a game?!”
Hart’s comedy style is open and inward. Exposing the whims and vulnerabilities of self is nothing new in comedy, but Hart produces a wonderful balance of defiance and defeat in his stories, sharing his foibles as if they were his fearlessness. For Let Me Explain, his third concert release, his routine is marked by just a few, long anecdotes upon which he hangs numerous gags, exploiting his smaller size from time to time to lend dimension to his verbal ramblings. Having reached a level of success to sell out New York’s Madison Square Garden, not once, but twice, Hart was wise to share this milestone as a follow-up to his wickedly funny Laugh at my Pain. Let Me Explain, however, doesn’t match the hilarity of his previous routines.
Let Me Explain, released theatrically over the July 4th holiday weekend, was a smart counter-programming gamble that paid off for Summit Entertainment, opening to over $10MM (more than the entire theatrical gross of Hart’s previously release, Laugh at My Pain). The final domestic haul would be over $32MM. Kevin Hart, who put up $2.5MM of his own money (via his production company) had hit it big.
The concert film, directed by Leslie Smalls, starts slow. The first fifteen or so minutes plays as a prologue, a level-setting for Hart’s rise. Beginning with a skit where a party Hart is throwing goes off the rails (similar to how his schemes embarrassingly fall apart in The Real Husbands of Hollywood) he is inspired to set the record straight. Since there’s no bigger platform than MSG, Hart sets off to be heard. Here the film takes a detour, showing off Hart’s fans across the globe. Many, in countries like Sweden and Norway know Hart from his appearance in the silly (but oddly growing cult favorite) Soul Plane. The quick touches in different countries, with fans expressing to the camera how funny Hart is, turns out to be oddly light on laughs. Even the snippets of concert footage shown from his 10 country, 80 city tour features Hart expressing his love and appreciation to the audience. It’s a laudable gesture, and coupled with his emotional words of gratitude at the end of his set at the Garden, evidence of a humble, grounded comedian fully thankful for his success. But it’s misplaced at the start of this film.
When Hart finally takes the stage, he soaks up the atmosphere, enjoys his fire display and launches into a routine covering familiar comedic ground – crazy girlfriends, cheating spouses, divorce – but with Hart’s revealed performance style, where his outlook on the world and his place in it are as much the butt of the joke as the others in the subject, the set some wonderful moments. There is always an honest and laid bare feel to his comedy. Hart is undeniably likeable, and his popularity of late in both his stand-up and filmed entertainment adventures is proving that out.
2011’s Laugh at my Pain is perhaps the funniest stand-up routine of the past five or so years. It was lively, exploding with creativity, and remarkably quotable. It featured Hart’s trademark ‘life on his sleeve’ exposure of family, failures and bizarre stories that are brimming with funny because it’s probably mostly true. Let Me Explain doesn’t quite hit that stride. There are moments that rise to his former funny heights (“Are you done?”), and the overall routine in sum is good, but it’s hardly Hart’s most concentrated and potent material. And at around 45 minutes of stage time, is much too short given the scale of the event (and the theatrical ticket price).
Perhaps the weakest element of the experience is the uneven nature of the production and the less-than-perfect choices made in the editing room. As the credits roll we’re treated to a little more of the skit that opened the film, but it’s the part of the skit that fits right before the concert footage. Dumped with the end credits, out of sequence, makes little sense. And audience close-ups through the routine often feature a celebrity laughing wildly while those around them are less in to whatever the comedy moment is. These audience reaction shots are too close to the people, impeding to the flow of the comedy, and set audibly too low to help sell the concert experience. Generally, the direction and editing hurt rather than help the experience.
Shot on film, with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Let Me Explain looks great. Colors are strong, detail is sharp and the balance of lights at the show itself work in the favor of the concert experience. The brightness of the red set elements contrasted with the black stage and darkness is quite striking.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is healthy and strong. Kevin Hart’s delivery is crystal clear, driven mostly through the center channel, and the accompanying music during the opening skit and tour recap, positively throbs. The sound of the audience reacting is lighter than I would have expected for a concert production, but that’s the only real nit I have.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
A light load of extras accompany the feature, dominated by three music videos. The remaining extras run around 10 minutes and are likeable diversions.
Special Features Rating: 2.5/5
Let Me Explain Theme Song "The Narcissist" featuring American Antagon 1st
Let Me Explain Title Song Video featuring Erick Sermon, Snoop Dogg, Method Man & RL
"Pop Off" by Doeshun featuring Ray Ray & Ruck
“Backstage Pass” Behind the scenes featurette
“No, No, No, Let Us Explain” Featurette
Selling out Madison Square Garden is no small feat for a comedian. Only five others can make that claim, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Dane Cook, George Carlin, and Andrew Dice Clay. It’s nice to add Kevin Hart to that list. It seems that, despite all his current success, we’re just witnessing the beginning of what he has to offer. His work on BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood is producing some of the funniest stuff on television right now, and his work in film is a slow burn, as he appears in other people’s films, creating small, memorable roles that broaden his appeal (his appearance in next year’s Ride Along is the closest he’s come to being a leading man when he shares the screen with Ice Cube).
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Fans of Hart will likely be mixed on Let Me Explain. It’s easy to enjoy the routine, even if it’s shorter than it really should have been, but this isn’t Hart’s finest material. Good, not great.
Reviewed By: Neil Middlemiss
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