REVIEW: In a Madison Square Garden concert film, the young monster of standup throws jokes like he's working a speed bag. | ★★★½ out of 4 stars
It’s a flurry of funny — punch lines, quips and bursts of comedic noise tumble out of the 32-year-old comic’s mouth at an astonishing rate.
There’s scarcely time to laugh before he’s off, onto the next setup, the next payoff. Filmed during a pair of sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden last year, “Let Me Explain” finds the restless Kevin Hart spending a brisk 80 minutes proving why his star has steadily risen over the past decade (Hart hosted “Saturday Night Live” in March and starred in no fewer than five films last year).
He is, as he notes at the film’s emotional conclusion, one of a handful of comedians to headline Madison Square Garden, and he tears into the opportunity as though everything leading up to these performances was merely rehearsal.
After an amusing opening sketch, with Hart alluding to some of the offstage drama that’s plagued him (divorce, a DUI arrest) and a brief recap of his European tour, he spends the bulk of his set mining relationships for humor, whether those are with unhinged women or his own children.
Blending an elastic voice with a gift for visual mimicry, Hart evokes predecessors like Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock while setting himself apart. Opening “Let Me Explain” on the July 4th week is a bold gambit, and one designed to assert Hart’s dominance and drawing power. (The audience I saw the film with roared from start to finish.)
Stand-up concert films remain a niche product, but watching Hart’s quicksilver routine here suggests it won’t be long before he’s commanding the crowds his talent deserves.★★★½ out of 4 stars