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Me Time Review: Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg Make Trouble in Netflix Dud

“Me Time,” a slapdash comedy by writer-director John Hamburg (“I Love You, Man”), stars Kevin Hart as Sonny Fisher, a stay-at-home parent suffering from what Betty Friedan labeled “the problem with no name.” Sonny feels lonely and out-of-step around adults with concerns more grown-up than his fixation on minivan technology, elementary school talent shows and a proposal to include plant-based milks in the cafeteria. His wife Maya (Regina Hall), a high-powered architect, proposes that he press pause on his domestic responsibilities to reconnect with his own inner needs. She’ll take their two kids Dash and Ava (Che Tafari and Amentii Sledge) over spring break if he’ll agree to attend the 44th birthday blowout extravaganza of his childhood best friend Huck (Mark Wahlberg), a footloose, Peter Pan-esque party boy whose company isn’t much more mature.

This is a tale about male friendship with very little believable onscreen bonding. (The opening credits number, “Best Friend Song” by Rozzi, does half of the heavy lifting.) Hamburg’s basic gag is that Sonny and Huck represent two extremes of the modern American male: Sonny represents the dad determined to shatter old gender stereotypes of hearth and home, while Huck embraces the new earth-nurturing bohemian wild man. If pressed, they’d probably find common ground espousing the healing properties of goji berries in their morning smoothie.

In practice, Sonny is reluctant to attend Huckchella, the desert rave Huck is throwing in his own honor (hashtag: #letsgethuckedup). He’s uncomfortable around the other guests, nearly all twentysomethings who dabble in beekeeping, herbalism, nudity and slackline gymnastics, and downright panicked when Huck hands everyone a matching track suit and a machete, sends them off to forage a communal supper, and, that night, howls in slow motion under a statue of himself. (Production designer Theresa Guleserian’s wry way of externalizing Huck’s ego lands the best jokes in the movie.)

Tilt your head one way at Huck and he looks like a cult leader. Tilt your head the other way and Wahlberg and Hamburg allow him to look like a ridiculous try-hard desperate to stay relevant. Blink, and in that time the film will have decided it doesn’t really care which one you believe — it’s already moved on to its next idea, and the next and so on, in its own manic desperation to keep the audience entertained.

The film feels as though it was put together the way a tumbleweed snatches up stray leaves and feathers. It bounces from location to location, gag to gag, adding side character and cameos (including the pop singer Seal) with next to no narrative momentum. In one scene, Hart and Wahlberg are tasked to give mouth-to-mouth to a tortoise. Later, a child who is thoroughly unrelated to the story halts the plot to perform Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” (At least the singer, Kayden Alexander Koshelev, is good.) No story beat lingers for longer than a few minutes, even the ones centered around fun performers like Shira Gross as a finger-breaking goon, Luis Gerardo Méndez as a wealthy toothbrush influencer who wants to lure Maya to a private island hideaway, or Diane Delano as a volunteer crossing guard introduced as a warning of what Sonny might become — his Ghost of Schoolyard Future — and whose backstory is accompanied by a pathetic tinkling of piano, composer Jeff Cardoni’s cleverest flourish.

The disarray is baffling for the audience, and downright punishing for Hart, whose lead character is forced to shape-shift between scenes, veering from milquetoast to petty to tyrannical to pushed-around. In a movie where Hart projectile vomits, defecates on a bed and is cradled like a pet, his greatest indignity comes at the climax when, for five whole minutes, he’s forced to pretend this is an emotional drama worthy of a big speech about the life lessons he’s learned. “I did a lot of stuff that I’m not proud of,” he says. Sentimental music putters in the background. A crowd of parents audibly awwws. And the film breezes onto the next bit it hopes will get a laugh.

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