Kevin Hart’s comedic energy is even more lively than the Tasmanian Devil on drugs inside a blender aboard a rocket ship.
Hart used that explosive energy to make his concert film, “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain,” to steal every scene in “Grudge Match” and to make his buddy comedy “Ride Along” a box office champ for three weeks. That’s all been accomplished in six months.
He’s showing no signs of slowing down. Hart headlines the new romantic comedy “About Last Night,” where he plays Bernie, a ladies man who may have finally met his match with the hard-drinking, fast-talking sexual athlete Joan (Regina Hall). This is the sixth time Hart and Hall have starred in the same film, but the first time they have worked so closely together.
Before becoming bed and bedlam buddies in “About Last Night,” they were in “Think Like a Man,” “The Best Man Holiday,” “Superhero Movie” and “Death at a Funeral.” They’re also in the upcoming “Think Like a Man Too.”
Getting to play an on-screen pair was a match made in comedy heaven for Hart.
“We didn’t expect to click together so quickly,” Hart says. “But there was an instant chemistry. Because we had so much energy on and off camera, we were able to go full-steam ahead.”
Hart says there’s a big difference between this film and the 1986 film of the same name starring Demi Moore and Rob Lowe.
“Our film is a lot edgier and that makes it a lot closer to (David) Mamet’s play,” Hart says. “We had some amazing writers on our movie who took the play and molded it and modernized it.”
The film is based on the Mamet play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago.” Mamet’s writing style – from the selection of words to where pauses should be taken – is distinctive, something that affected Hart’s ability to ad lib.
Hart and Hall were able to stay true to the script by doing a scene the way it was written but then adding their own comic spin at the end.
“A lot of the rants you see at the end of a scene is just us. That gave us a lot of improv moments,” Hart says.
And because Hall was improv-ing just as fast and hard as Hart, the comedian felt like he had to up his game. He’s convinced that the extra focus helped make the film and his performance better.
Hart’s success is the result of years of work. The Philadelphia native went from winning a regional comedy contest to a role on the Judd Apatow series “Undeclared” in 2001. Since then he’s bounced between stand-up work and acting roles, including “The Big House,” “Paper Soldiers,” “Soul Plane” and “Modern Family.” He’s also got a reality show parody on his résumé, “Real Husbands of Hollywood.”
There’s a trick to how Hart continues to find what seems like boundless energy in every project he tackles.
“It’s definitely easy for me to find the energy because I know as long as you work hard and stay focused you can get great results. I’ve been doing this for a while and I feel like I know and understand the work so much more. I bring more to the table,” Hart says. “I am a stand-up comedian first and nothing will ever surpass that. But it’s just fun to get paid to make people laugh.”
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.