June 25, 2023

THE MAN FROM TORONTO: Kevin Hart Does His Thing...Again

2022 / 110 min
Review by Tiger the Terrible😾

I have yet to see a movie that isn’t made worse by the presence of Kevin Hart, even the animated ones. He’s like the second coming of Adam Sandler…grating, obnoxious and about as funny as a tax audit.

I’m strictly speaking of him as an actor, not a comedian. While I personally don't find his stand-up all that hilarious, I can certainly see why others do. But he’s a terrible actor, mainly because in every movie I’ve ever seen where he has a significant role, Hart’s not playing a character. He’s simply being Kevin Hart…the exact same pint-sized, fast-talking, smart-ass persona as his stage act. Only this time, he’s ruining someone else’s material. Hell, even his DraftKings commercials suck.

He’s probably not to blame, though. I’m pretty certain Patrick Hughes, the director of The Man from Toronto, simply instructed him to do his “Kevin Hart thing” when the cameras rolled. Maybe there are entire scenes in the screenplay that simply read, Kevin Hart does his thing. And he certainly obliges…in gobs of laughless, occasionally embarrassing sequences where his manic “character” sucks all the oxygen out of the room. Considering the premise of this particular film, at no time do we believe we’re watching anyone but Kevin Hart doing his thing. I dunno…maybe the little guy actually can act, but so far, no one has asked him to.

The Unfriendly Skies.
And pity Woody Harrelson as the title character, a notorious hitman with a legendary knack for getting information out of people. It turns out to be a thankless role because he’s essentially regulated to being the straight-man to Hart, which is a shame. As movies like Zombieland have demonstrated, he can be pretty damn funny even when playing a badass. Here, he’s seldom even given a chance. 

What's sad is there’s probably a decent movie in here somewhere. The plot itself ain’t bad, with perpetual loser Teddy (Hart) being mistaken for the “Man from Toronto,” but since the bad guys now think he’s the actual assassin, the FBI insists he continues the ruse to root out a Cuban dictator who plans an assassination with a deadly new weapon. Meanwhile, the Man from Toronto (real name: Randy) is trying to finish his mission of getting codes to activate the weapon, and uses Teddy to pose as himself. In different hands, the story might have even made a decent straight action thriller.

Instead, Hughes is apparently aiming to repeat the success he had with The Hitman’s Bodyguard. But where that film pretty effectively blended action and comedy - aided by more refined characters - this one is irritating, implausible and interminable. While it’s tempting to blame Kevin Hart for all of its shortcomings, I think the fault lies exclusively on the laziness of those behind the camera, who simply relied on the comedian to do his thing.

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