Kevin Hart is an extremely funny man. I just wish he'd be funnier for longer stretches of time. Let me explain: this 75-minute stand-up concert film begins with nearly 15 minutes of pre-show filler. First, you get a sketch involving Hart at a party where he's confronted by a variety of guests, each one grilling him about a rumor they've heard -- What about his divorce? What about his difficult relationship with his father? What about his not dating dark-skinned women?
His answer to this interrogation is that he needs to run down to Madison Square Garden and explain himself. But wait, now there's a travelogue. Kevin Hart's fame has grown a lot in the past few years. He's got a really funny mock-reality show on BET called Real Husbands of Hollywood, he stole all his scenes in Think Like a Man, and YouTube has been so good to him he can sell out stand-up shows in Canada, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and England. Because of this, you will watch him say "Thank you" to those audiences, over and over and over. One of his friends, in a taped testimonial, call him a "global brand." It's a long 15 minutes.
The good news: the remaining hour of film, an uninterrupted show from Madison Square Garden -- a legitimately rare location coup for any stand-up comic -- is explosively funny. Extremely physical, Hart never stops moving. He throws his entire body into a punch line, talks a mile a minute, and makes pit stops in typical stand-up territory (dating and the differences between the sexes) before heading in stranger directions: he's apparently afraid that a homeless person will touch him on the lips and that, due to his small stature -- he's 5'2" -- another man will hit him in the head with an erect penis during a fight. He's also humped a bean bag chair while on Ecstasy and worried that his son truly believes himself to be Spider-Man.
Like all good tortured comics, he's great at self-mockery and existential howling over life's odd frustrations -- one of the keys to winning over a comedy audience -- but he's also clearly thrilled with the first rush of power that growing celebrity provides, demanding that the stage techs make vertical fire effects blow up and delighted when they do. Meanwhile, he uses the N-word enough to make Oprah Winfrey (who famously scolded Ludacris for similar crimes) an enemy for life. If that's a deal-breaker for you, or you're maybe just too aware of the cost inefficiency of a theater ticket to a movie that only lasts an hour and a quarter and you're angry that there's no Pixar short attached to this all-too-brief visit, you've been warned.