A relatively candid look into the life of one of the most famous figures in the world, though one slightly let down by his own creative control over it.
The greatest problem with Kevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up (Netflix), a new six-part docuseries about the life and career of the world’s highest-grossing comedian, is the same problem Kevin Hart experiences in his personal and professional lives — himself. The same unrivalled work ethic that allows him to juggle multiple creative projects is the same work ethic which keeps him away from home; away from his wife and children, even when his marriage is in turmoil and his kids are acting out. The same brazen honesty and outlandish personality which defines his comedy also led to his ousting as the host of the 2019 Academy Awards for long-ago homophobic remarks. This docuseries, which in total runs about three hours, opens with Hart debating how to apologize for those remarks, insisting that he had already done so and being told he hadn’t — at least not adequately.
Hart is a problem for Kevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up because he retains creative control of it. Its perspective is, by design, skewed in his favour; even in its most candid moments, it’s only revealing things that have been pre-approved — and in many cases very specifically arranged — by Hart and his team. That isn’t to say the series doesn’t include moments of surprising frankness and self-awareness since it very much does, but they’re filtered through various layers of protective justification. The sense is that for all Hart’s failings, his positive qualities outweigh the negative. This might well be true — but how can it not be when Hart himself gets to determine which of those qualities, and in what proportion, we actually get to see?
This, then, is for fans, and fans don’t need convincing. Kevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up will give them, I think, several other ways in which to defend the comedian, whose success is inarguable but whose character is still open for debate in certain quarters. But it’s unlikely this project will convert any of Hart’s detractors; it’s too finely-tuned for that, even if it does show some sides of one of the world’s most famous men that his various creative endeavours — including his stand-up work — have left in the shade. As someone who, for the most part, likes the comedian and respects both his labour and the fruits of it, I appreciated a behind-closed-doors look into his life and work — I just wish he wasn’t opening the doors himself and didn’t have the power to keep them locked if necessary.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.