Entertainment

Kevin Hart, Mark Wahlberg fail to bring laughs with ‘Me Time’

The duo's new Netflix movie is definitely not the top streaming option to watch this weekend.

Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg in "Me Time."
Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg in "Me Time." Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Mark Wahlberg buddy comedies can be a hit or miss proposition. The Dorchester native has mined comedy gold from films like “The Other Guys” and “Ted,” and whiffed with many others like “Spenser Confidential,” “Daddy’s Home,” and “Ted 2.” Wahlberg certainly isn’t the worst part of the new Netflix comedy “Me Time” (out August 26), a two-hander with comedian Kevin Hart. In fact, Wahlberg’s role is so underwritten that he occasionally fails to register.

Hart plays Sonny, a stay-at-home dad who is pretty great at his job. Sonny is PTA president, has his 5-year-old daughter learning Mandarin, and is determined to turn his son into a piano virtuoso to make up for abandoning his own music career to support his architect wife, Maya (Regina Hall).

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Sonny loves doting on his kids. Whether it’s popping goji berries into their smoothies, posting Instagrams of their perfectly assembled lunches, or coordinating the school talent show, he is thriving as a stay-at-home husband. But in the first of several out-of-character moments, he gives in to the needling of fellow parents and decides he needs some “me time,” sending the rest of his family on vacation so he can go wild at home.

Part of that week of freedom involves reconnecting with his childhood bestie Huck (Wahlberg), a never-let-the-party-die type who has spared no expense for his “milestone” 44th birthday. Soon enough, Sonny is whisked off to “Huckchella,” an outlandish festival in the middle of the desert filled with bonfires, rave lights, and a giant statue of Huck. (Huckchella resembles Burning Man much more than it does Coachella, but I digress.)

What follows is approximately one hour of Hart’s demeanor veering between that of a no-holds-barred party animal and an exasperated, out-of-his-element dad — often multiple times in the same scene. It’s an adept if perfunctory performance, and if you’re a fan of the comedian’s schtick, you’ll be satisfied. But for anyone seeking deeper character development or a sensible plot, look elsewhere.

Mark Wahlberg and Kevin Hart in "Me Time."
Mark Wahlberg and Kevin Hart in “Me Time.”

Playing the straight woman, Hall holds her own in “Me Time,” particularly when she struggles to reconcile her career success with her increasing detachment from her children. In one scene, a wealthy client offers Maya a massive career opportunity. As she ponders what Sonny would think, he and Huck, driven by tequila and jealousy, trash the client’s house.

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Wahlberg, to his credit, doesn’t play Huck as his typical tough guy. There’s a quiet desperation to his character, who constantly surrounds himself with 20somethings and sinks into deep debt with an unsympathetic loan shark (Jimmy O. Yang, “Patriots Day”) while futilely chasing the high of being young again.

Writer-director John Hamburg (“Meet the Parents”) gives a few supporting characters opportunities to pop, but none of them really register. Yang, who was so funny in “Silicon Valley,” doesn’t land a single laugh here. As the wealthy land developer, Luis Gerardo Méndez (“Murder Mystery”) is a stock foreign character, apologizing to Sonny that he doesn’t know the Spanish word for “housewife.” As an obnoxious fellow school dad, Andrew Santino (“This Is Us”) probably fares the best.

With “Me Time,” Netflix seems to have committed the same errors as it did with its other summer blockbuster starring two A-list leading men, “The Gray Man.” Instead of putting time and effort into crafting a competent script, it feels like the streaming giant simply fed Hart and Wahlberg into its famed content recommendation algorithm and released whatever came out.

Rating: 1 1/2 stars (out of 4).

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