Director: John Hamburg
Writer: John Hamburg
Stars: Kevin Hart, Mark Wahlberg, Regina Hall
Synopsis: It follows a father who finds time for himself for the first time in years while his wife and children are away. He reconnects with a friend for a wild weekend.
There are few things more sacred in the Miller household than football on Sundays and the family dinner that follows. On par with that is the big remote drop when I love you man appears when browsing channels. You can’t talk about the transition of 21st century comedies without coming across a classic John Hamburg comedy. The man has defined the new buddy sitcom for the last decade. From writing modern comedy classics like Zoolander Y meet the parents to that endearing Paul Rudd vehicle, the man’s resume for sophomore camaraderie is unmatched. However, all the charm, laughs, chemistry and heart we’ve dealt with in his previous films seems to have been eerily forgotten in Hamburg’s latest comedy, Personal time.
Here, the story follows Sonny Fisher (Kevin Hart), a doting stay-at-home father of two. His wife, Maya (the wonderful Regina Hall), is a successful and in-demand architect who is the breadwinner of the family. The Fishers make a wonderful team. Maya makes sure they have a roof over their heads, and Sonny makes sure the family runs smoothly. He fathers his children Ava and Dash like clockwork. He’s making sure Dash practices the piano every day. (Dash would rather listen to Bill Burr’s sets, nice touch.) He is also on every conceivable school committee. However, Sonny hasn’t had a well-earned break in years. Also, Maya realizes that she misses her children growing up.
That’s where Huck Dembo (Mark Wahlberg) comes in. Sonny’s oldest and dearest friend, he stopped dating because Huck lives life on the edge. With a family and even proper training, Sonny can no longer afford to jump off a cliff in a wingsuit. However, with Huck about to celebrate his 44th birthday in a couple of days, Maya sees an opportunity for Sonny to experience some much-needed self-care. She can also take her children for the weekend. Of course, things go off script and the ride is bumpier than ever.
Hamburg also wrote Personal timeLines of . A collection of scenes and ideas lazily strung together with no subtext and virtually no laughs. From mixing family comedy jokes like tripping over turtle feces to illogical and nonsensical comedy like fighting a mountain lion with an EpiPen; none of it works or comes close to being humorous or even funny. You also have an alarming problem of situations arising for no purpose.
For example, Hart’s Sonny accuses his father-in-law of cheating on his wife with no explanation before or after. The duo also break into the home of Maya’s most valuable client (Luis Gerardo Méndez) without explaining how they got into the complex past security or broke into the house. Then there’s Jimmy O. Yang’s completely useless Stan Berman, who has no reason to exist other than to give the film a false sense of purpose.
While Hart’s energy remains infectious and Wahlberg’s signature turn of playing comedic roles in a sweet, naïve way can be endearing, the dialogue remains aimless and inconsequential. In fact, the only time a joke works, by the vastly underused Anna Maria Horsford and John Amos, the rest of the lifeless script sticks out like a sore thumb.
The best Hamburg films, while operating on a level of illogical premises, had characters seeking to communicate and understand each other. This has been best achieved by combining well-structured comic scenes together for more significant effect and payoff. This is how you make a winning comedy that finds the heart of the matter.
As Barbara Lowe says, this way, you’ll never leave disappointed.
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