I’m really tired of seeing Kevin Hart in movies. I have yet to see him be likeable in anything, and this film is no exception. He plays a loud, obnoxious asshole, and apparently some people think that’s funny, because he keeps getting work. That said, the film seems to use Hart as an occasional vessel for a decent message about the functionality of relationships, and I was able to appreciate some of the lines his character delivered in one or two scenes. However, I don’t think that saves this film. It hovers right on the line between being a decent film and being a mildly unpleasant one, but I don’t think I’m inclined to recommend this flick.
There’s actually two concurrent storylines in this film that take place over the course of a year. The less significant one deals with the evolving relationship between Bernie (Kevin Hart) and Joan (Regina Hall), which starts as purely sexual, then venomously spiteful, and then finally turns around to being a stable relationship. Their seeming dysfunction is supposed to be the comedic center of the film, but if you’ve seen anything these two actors have ever been in, you can imagine that the humor revolves around shouting matches and insults, which get old fast. The film spends most of the runtime with these two characters at each other’s throats, and when the two finally get back together at the end, it somehow simultaneously feels forced and predictable. As I said before, Hart does deliver some good lines about how relationships aren’t perfect and how honest, open communication is the way to be with someone, but the film never shows his character exemplifying that behavior. I appreciate the message the film tried to deliver through the Bernie/Joan relationship, but it rings a little hollow.
The other two characters are Bernie and Joan’s best friends, Danny and Debbie, who hook up, have amazing chemistry, then very quickly move in together, and then start building a life together that crashes down very quickly because they moved way too fast. These two, portrayed by Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant respectively, are where the film’s true heart lies, and the performances these two give are great. They aren’t the best communicators, and they’re both all too quick to attack each other’s flaws, but their chemistry feels genuine, and it’s easy to see that they would work well together if they would just stop assuming that everything in their relationship will be okay without any effort. So yeah, they separate and it’s obvious that they are going to get back together at the end, but I do appreciate that the film’s final scenes are devoted to re-establishing a dialogue, rather than just reverting the two leads into being madly in love again.
What I don’t appreciate is that the film fails to land any appreciable message about how to make relationships work. The characters acknowledge their fault, but I wasn’t convinced that they had actually learned anything from their experiences. Instead, the film’s message seems to be that true love will always prevail, which undermines the deeper message that lies just underneath the surface. Maybe I just want this film to be more than it turned out to be, but there’s so much potential here to give the audience something thoughtful to ponder as the credits roll, and it never capitalizes on it. It does better than a usual generic love story because the relationships, while flawed, are fairly realistic if not always healthy.
Unfortunately, the film never fully addresses why the initial attempts at relationships failed in the first place, which seems to me to be the entire point. There are worse romance films out there, but in light of reviewing both Her and In Your Eyes this past month, I can’t feel justified in recommending this one.
Know any films that falls short of hitting their thematic mark? Tell me about them in the comments below.