Review: Aiming for Comedy in Male Insecurity, Me Time Never Hits the Target

Over the years, writer/director John Hamberg has explored men from a unique perspective. Often with very funny results, he has posed questions about male friendships and relationships and wondered why men can’t get over their hangups and just act like normal people. With I Love You, Man, he examined male friendships from the perspective of a guy who didn’t have any and is forced to seek one out; in Why Him?, he looks at the uncomfortable process of a father letting go of his daughter as she falls in love with someone else. And now with Me Time, he profiles Sonny (Kevin Hart), a stay-at-home dad who has insecurities about losing the fun person he used to be when he’s faced with spending time with his oldest friend Huck (Mark Wahlberg) during a blowout birthday excursion.

Sonny is a man addicted to his routines and schedules. He heads numerous parents’ activity groups at his kids’ school, leaving his architect wife Maya (Regina Hall) to focus on her primary client, a self-help guru named Armando (Luis Gerardo Méndez), whom Sonny believes (for no real reason) is intent on stealing his wife. At home managing the household, Sonny is confident about what needs to get done and how to arrange his family’s lives so that order is maintained. But when he’s around his friend Huck (whom he hasn’t seen in years), he finds himself in situations that are out of his control, and that freaks him out. We see a flashback where Sonny accidentally finds himself flying in a wingsuit, and with Huck’s current birthday party, he plans on spending multiple days at his own birthday festival in the desert (complete with a 50-ft. effigy of Wahlberg, set to be burned on the final day of his own personal Burning Man).

Me Time isn’t just about Sonny’s insecurities; Maya also feels similarly about her role as a mother in her children’s lives. She is so preoccupied with work that she isn’t aware of big moments or changes with the children, and this weighs heavily on her. So she decides to take the kids to her parents’ house in Northern California, leaving Sonny some alone time to do whatever he wants. Of course, the film thinks that the second he’s alone, Sonny starts cruising porn, but eventually he starts sorting through his options and decides that it’s been too long since Huck has had a chance to corrupt him.

Wahlberg plays Huck like a big, friendly dog who has his life together and hangs out with a much younger crew, but as the film goes on, Sonny realizes his friend is as much a mess as he is but for different reasons. The real question with Me Time is when do things start getting funny? And when/if they do, who are we meant to be laughing at or with? Hart and Wahlberg are both basically straight men, and while Sonny’s hangups are pathetic, they don’t really lead to many laughs, even when Hart gets attacked by a mountain lion. (Didn’t we just watch a movie where a guy fights a lion?; that movie wasn’t very funny either.)

In fact, most of the laughs in this movie come from the abundance of supporting characters in Me Time, including Andrew Santino, playing Sonny’s best parental friend; John Amos and  Anna Maria Horsford as Sonny’s inlaws; Jimmy O. Yang as Stan, a loan shark, looking to get paid by Huck; and newcomer Ilia Isorelýs Paulino as Thelma the Uber driver, who joins the men on their various quests in the back half of the movie and ends up stealing every scene and practically becoming a fourth lead. Even still, too much of Me Time feels like antics for antics’ sake, and much of the movie doesn’t feel honest or true to men or women in these situations. It’s a shame, too, because a more genuine comedy on these subjects probably could be made. Instead, this is just Hart doing the nervous, twitchy character that he uses in most films these days. Plus, it doesn’t help that the film becomes something different every 20 minutes or so, going from marriage story to buddy adventure comedy to caper film to party central. The film can’t decide what it wants to be, and it shows.

The film is now streaming on Netflix.

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Steve Prokopy
Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.

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