When Adam Sandler is essentially playing a variation on Adam Sandler, his characters often shamble about in cargo shorts and oversized T-shirts, as if Sandler rolled out of bed, showed up on set and someone shouted, “Action!” They’re Cargo Shorts Movies.
Now we get Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg in a Tracksuit Movie, which has the same, hardly-trying vibe as Sandler films such as “Blended,” “Grown-Ups” and “Jack & Jill.” Through much of the crass, boorish, desperately loud and stunningly unfunny “Me Time,” Hart and Wahlberg are clad in matching sweatsuits, and we get the feeling they embraced that plot point because it meant less time in wardrobe and a faster path for these two enormously likable stars to phone it in, collect their paychecks and move on to the next Netflix project.
Writer-director John Hamburg (writer of “Meet the Parents,” director of “Along Came Polly” and “I Love You, Man”) has the ability to wring big laughs out of absurdist situations, but in “Me Time,” nearly everybody delivers their lines in the forced manner of 1980s sitcoms, the situations bear little resemblance to anything that would occur in the real world— and the two leads engage in selfish and at times criminally nasty behavior that erases any trace of empathy we might have for them. They’re two fortysomething idiots who act like 10-year-old boys, and that’s an insult to most 10-year-old boys.
Netflix presents a film written and directed by John Hamburg. Rated R (for some sexual material, language and brief drug use). Running time: 102 minutes. Available Friday on Netflix.
Hart’s Sonny Fisher and Wahlberg’s Huck Dembo were BFFs, but in recent years they’ve grown apart, as Sonny has settled in as the stay-at-home dad to his two children with his architect wife May (Regina Hall). Huck, meanwhile, is still out there acting the fool, as evidenced by his 44th birthday party, in which he rents a bus adorned with huge photos of himself and throws a Burning Man-type party in the desert. Before Sonny reluctantly agrees to join Huck’s weeklong bash, the bar for humor has already been lowered, e.g., Sonny slips not once but twice in the kitchen on droppings left by the Fisher’s family pet, a large tortoise.
Before we slog our way to the finish line, “Me Time” will deliver scenes of projectile vomiting, portable toilet humor, flatulence, and Sonny dropping a deuce in a perceived rival’s bed. (What is this, the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial?) The plot, such as it is, involves Sonny getting involved in all sorts of dangerous and stupid hijinks as Huck’s party moves from the desert to Sonny’s house, while Maya is on vacation with the kids at her parents’ place. Sonny suspects Maya’s wealthy client Armando (Luis Gerardo Méndez) of making the moves on Maya, which leads to Sonny and Huck engaging in some truly awful things to get back at Armando — and that’s when any hope we might like these two nincompoops has been lost.
Also: On numerous occasions, the characters in “Me Time” reference real-life pop culture touchstones, from “Bridgerton” to “Storage Wars” to Eddie Murphy to “Blue Bloods” (which stars Wahlberg’s brother, Donnie) to Tiffany Haddish. (Not to mention the truly shameless product placement for LEGO “Star Wars” toys.) There’s even a monologue about George Clooney’s love life, which has me thinking about the two movies Clooney and Wahlberg did together. Every time a celebrity is mentioned, it’s a bit jarring, because we know these huge stars playing “regular folks” are referencing people they likely (or in some cases, for sure) know in real life. It takes us out of the story every time and feels as artificial and forced as everything else in this rubbish.