In one of the early scenes of Me Time, the most recent Netflix parody, we see a discussion between a couple that pussyfoots around a contention. Regina Hall’s deliberate Maya is empowering Kevin Hart’s edgy Sonny to relax a little. Regardless of this, he is focused on his own frailties as a stay-at-home parent and continues to return again to how he was awkward with cooperation that occurred at a supper they recently joined in. At a certain point, Hall expresses a straightforward “what?” in light of the meandering aimlessly chomped Hart is endeavoring to get out. This single word, with how truly confounded it feels, turns out to be vastly more entertaining than anything more that happens over almost two hours. However Maya was answering the tangled way that Sonny was endeavoring to legitimize his controlling propensities, she might have been remarking on the bewildering and unfunny film itself.
The reason is a basic one, as it follows Sonny as he requires a couple of days to himself while Maya goes on their children on an outing to see family. It before long turns out to be certain that he doesn’t actually have numerous companions or anybody to really interface with during this extra energy. He at first becomes involved with humiliating circumstances encompassing masturbation, grill, and golf (a genuine sacred trinity of unreliable manliness). At last, he chooses to reconnect with his close buddy Huck (Mark Wahlberg), who is tossing a costly birthday festivity for himself. It has been a very long time since they have hung out, something Sonny makes sense of was deliberate, as he believed he had grown out of their companionship. An initial flashback scene, through a few rather cumbersome impacts, offers a smidgen of what he implies by this when the team endeavors a trick that turns out badly. In any case, regardless of his reservations, Sonny chooses to at long last consent to Huck’s numerous supplications to hang out as they used to. They each wear matching tracksuits and hit the road on a crude party transport.
The story then becomes about all the shenanigans the two men will get up to. There is an attack by a mountain lion, a run-in with an imposing loan shark, recurring situations involving poop, and an extended cameo appearance. It is everything you would expect from a more mainstream comedy like this, down to the overly sentimental final act that drags on and on in an attempt to instill some sort of lasting lesson. The unfortunate thing is that the film is rarely funny and often feels uncertain about what it actually wants to be. The early scenes of slapstick, something that can be an art form when done well, only end up feeling hollow and noncommittal. An attempt to pivot to be a more wild adventure falls flat as well when the film just takes us right back to where we started with only a handful of recurring gags that it cycles through. It is all formula and no fun, putting us in situation after situation that it stretches to a breaking point in the hope of getting something going to justify a rather lengthy runtime that feels even longer. You soon realize this is a film of rapidly diminishing comedic returns.
Me Time is written and directed by long-time comedy filmmaker John Hamburg (I Love You, Man) though it feels more like it was designed by a committee rather than a person with a vision. While Hamburg’s last film Why Him? was not particularly successful at what it set out to achieve, there was at least a sense that there was some sort of driving force behind it. That is entirely absent here. Me Time just goes through the motions of a wacky comedy without any of the actually funny components. It feels like it is holding itself back from making that necessary leap into absurdity as everything plays out just as you would expect. Above all else, a good comedy requires some element of surprise to it. While there are a couple of moments of this, one involving a tortoise and the other a sudden car crash, they are completely buried under a lot of set-ups that all eventually arrive at comedic dead ends.
Oddly, some of the funnier jokes and interactions come when we cut away from the main duo to check in with Maya off with the rest of the family. Much of this is due to Hall, whose wit largely goes wasted beyond these short sequences and her sense of comedic timing. On the other side of this are Hart and Wahlberg, who lack the necessary chemistry to carry the rest of the film on their own. While the material itself wasn’t doing them any favors, the performances they give both feel one note and unimaginative. Even the most straightforward of comedies can be elevated by the committed comedic presence of the actors at the core, though that is never felt here. Instead, we get scenes like the aforementioned cameo where there is no joke for the person appearing to be a part of other than the randomness of them being there.
There are also repeated references to stand-up comedy as Sonny’s son shares how he enjoys watching everyone from Bill Burr to Tiffany Haddish. While it soon becomes clear that this is to set up how the young kid wants to take a different path for an upcoming talent show, where he is supposed to play piano that he hasn’t been practicing, it just served as a constant reminder of how light on actual jokes the film is. While they are vastly different forms of comedy, the jokes from even the most average stand-up special far surpass anything taking part here. Hart is one of those very performers and there are moments in the film where it almost seems like he is doing a bit just as he would on stage. The issue is that it doesn’t ever connect in the same way as it does when it is just him as the film doesn’t have the patience or direction necessary to actually build on them. Each only ends up feeling like little asides, as if Hart was just riffing, and they left it in there when they realized they didn’t have that much else going on in the way of comedy. Perhaps the most unexpected takeaway from it all is that this makes Hart’s prior film on the streamer from this year, The Man from Toronto, look much better by comparison. Then again, this isn’t a compliment to either.