There’s a montage in “Me Time,” Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg’s new Netflix comedy, where Hart’s character, Sonny, gets a day to himself for the first time in a long time.
For years, he has devoted himself as a stay-at-home dad to his two children (the very cute Che Tafari and Amentii Sledge). It’s a job he takes very, very seriously, making lunches worthy of Instagram influencers and managing the household while his wife Maya (Regina Hall) is at work. She’s a successful architect, we’re told, but we’ll find that out later.
Sonny has a modest vision for his day off: He wants to golf. He wants to find a place for underground barbecue. And he wants to do some other things privately. But nothing goes as he hoped. Unfortunately, its overwhelming experience is similar to that of watching the film itself.
“Me Time” somehow squanders a strong premise, an assembled cast and a seemingly unlimited budget. It shouldn’t have been a big deal in this movie comedy drought we seem to be in. But considering who was involved, it really should have been better than it is.
“Me Time” was written and directed by John Hamburg, who also did “I Love You, Man” and “Along Came Polly,” and is as good a premise as any to pair up a standard straight man with a wild and crazy friend. from his youth. In this case that friend is Huck (Wahlberg). We meet them celebrating Huck’s 29th birthday. His wild activity that year is BASE jumping, which provides a lively and promising start to the film that then comes to a screeching halt. “Me Time” cuts to 15 years later and spends a lot of time setting up Sonny’s life at home instead of getting him back with Huck as soon as possible.
As Huck, Wahlberg was clearly willing to go all out, including some nudity. He becomes a huge party fiend, which has its moments even though his character never makes much sense. Meanwhile, Hart stays in his comfort zone as a slightly jaded family man. It’s something he’s very good at, but also something we’ve seen many times before. Still, it’s nice to see the two try out another comedy partner instead of their favorite co-stars. And though the two actors seem to be having fun together, the film never quite finds its way, jumping frantically from half to half, many of which involve someone sticking something down their pants.
There’s always a bit of fantasy involved when it comes to the financial realities of characters in big Hollywood comedies. It is often used to signal a middle to upper class life that is comfortable without being flashy. It’s connected and a little aspirational and something that’s supposed to be background only. Maybe it’s just a sign of the times, when so many people are struggling and housing in big cities like Los Angeles is more expensive than ever, but on “Me Time,” the wealth on display is downright distracting.
Huck’s lavish lifestyle and elaborate Kardashian-like parties turn into a conspiracy when a loan shark (Jimmy O. Yang) comes after him for $47,000—which seems like a lot, but also not enough for someone who pours thousands of dollars to have a personal raw bar in the desert and a tour bus wrapped in his photos. And then there’s the puzzling question of why Maya, whom her billionaire client (Luis Gerardo Méndez) says is “the best architect in the world,” lives in a cookie-cutter house in Sherman Oaks that looks like it’s been lifted from a sitcom of the 1990s.
Maya is just one of the very empowered characters in the game here, and Hall definitely deserved better.
These are all statements that would be inappropriate if this movie was consistently entertaining or funny, which is disappointing because you can see the possibilities here. “Me Time” just missed the mark.
“Me Time,” a Netflix release streaming now, has been rated R by the Motion Picture Association for “brief use of drugs, some sexual material, language.” Duration: 104 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.
Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.