Released: 26th August
Seen: 5th September
When it comes to cinematic experiences, there is absolutely nothing worse than an unfunny comedy. Failing at a serious genre is a recipe for potential campiness which can be its own special kind of fun but failing at comedy just leads to annoyance and boredom from anyone who is unlucky enough to watch. If you fail to be serious, at least the viewer can laugh at the failure and get some kind of enjoyment out of it but failure to be funny when that’s your intention will never go well… how the hell Me Time fails this hard at being funny considering its cast is hard to believe.
Me Time follows stay-at-home dad Sonny Fisher (Kevin Hart) who is doing his best raising his kids while his wife Maya (Regina Hall) is off at work as an architect. Sonny seems to be living a life he’s pretty content with, raising his kids, being a responsible adult and all that good stuff but since there is no movie unless he does stupid shit, Maya tells Sonny he needs to have some time without the kids so she takes their kids off to visit the grandparent’s while Sonny has some alone time.
After doing the typical alone time things (masturbating, eating obscene amounts of food, golfing) Sonny runs into his old friend Huck (Mark Wahlberg) who invites him along for Huck’s birthday weekend which gets crazy, meaning Sonny will have to learn how to let go but also not do too much of it or else he might damage the life he’s set up… or something like that, it’s a standard setup that somehow fumbles the lesson at the end so severely that it’s not worth thinking about.
The setup of Me Time is almost so stock standard that it should be impossible to screw up, stuffy boring guy decides to have one day of letting loose, usually accompanied by a complete loose cannon friend he hasn’t talked to in about 5 years because they keep screwing up their lives and ends up going too far so he has to apologise for his behaviour and learn to get more balance in his life. It’s standard for a reason, it works when the right cast is assembled and can create magic. It also works wonderfully in a very basic three act structure where the first act sets up the two dynamics, the middle of the film is pure over-the-top shenanigans, the third act is where things screw up, the friends stop talking, then get back together and make everything right with one big elaborate gesture of some form. It’s so simple… and Me Time fails on every level.
Structurally Me Time just seems to have no idea what it’s doing, like it was a few different movie ideas that got jammed together. We have Huck’s big birthday party shenanigans which eventually turns into “Huck owes a loan shark a lot of money” shenanigans (though not much, it’s basically there just to introduce a stupid financial barrier towards the end) and then we get “Sonny is jealous of one of Maya’s clients” shenanigans which comes out of nowhere and is just there to justify a money issue to drive a bigger wedge between Sonny and Maya even though it’s not needed. It’s like they couldn’t decide what all the insanity of the middle should be about so they tried a little of everything and none of it works, none of it’s funny.
Considering the calibre of the cast, it’s actually kind of stunning how unfunny Me Time is. Regina Hall alone should make this film work as she’s one of the funniest actresses alive today but she’s barely in Me Time and has, for some reason, been given a completely blank slate character to play so there’s nothing to work with. Likewise with Kevin Hart, who is usually pretty damn funny when he’s given a role that requires him to be exasperated at everything around him, he just never gets a decent joke to work with. It’s the same Kevin Hart schtick we’re all used to at this point, but it really doesn’t work here. The real shock is Mark Wahlberg who, for everything about him that’s hard to like, is a genuinely funny actor when he has the right material but again, there is nothing to work with here so he’s left relying on pure enthusiasm alone which isn’t a joke.
Try as one might, it’s impossible to see a decent joke anywhere in Me Time and it’s not like they don’t set them up. We’re talking basic crap like a scene where Sonny thinks he’s alone so he watches porn on the big screen in his bedroom, only to have a kid walk in while he’s naked. Could this lead to something awkwardly hilarious, sure… in a good film. Do you know what the big joke they give Regina Hall is? She gets to say “Daddy’s just playing… with himself”. Not even a good masturbation joke, just a blunt description of what’s happening. There’s a goddamn lion attack in Me Time, no jokes anywhere to be found (though it is nice to see the old Lion King technology is working because the lions looked fairly realistic). No real jokes are to be found while they destroy the clients’ house or even at the big talent show. It never goes far enough to be funny, it just feels like they didn’t even care.
That might be the one thing that Me Time has in common with its audience… no one cares. Me Time is a film that’s impossible to care about and impossible to like because it has nothing to offer. It’s not funny or charming, there’s no clever spin on the premise or killer scene you have to look at because it’s so insane that you will have no choice but to laugh at it. It’s a dull lifeless comedy that shouldn’t be this bad, not with this cast, not with the guy who wrote Meet the Fockers and Zoolander! This combination of talents should have created something that was amusing at bare minimum but all it created was a dull slog. After watching Me Time, I need some time alone to think about my life choices.