Ever since his scene-stealing role in Scary Movie 3, Kevin Hart has been a Hollywood force of nature. And he’s got 152 million Instagram followers to prove his success. Originally known as a stand-up comedian, Hart has starred in Hollywood films and on TV for years now. He has also released several well-received comedy albums. even created and starred as a fictionalized version of himself in Real Husbands of Hollywood (2013–2016). In 2017, Hart launched the Laugh Out Loud Network, a subscription video streaming service in partnership with Lionsgate. Have we mentioned his bromance with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? We rest our case — Hart is everywhere!
“Of course my success has grown because I’ve had some more success with theatrical movies. But the biggest real change is probably just my mentality,” Hart once told Esquire. “I’m at a point now where I’ve grown tremendously as a man. I’m smarter. I’m more educated in the realm of business and what goes into the entertainment. That’s what I think people don’t understand — that term ‘show business’ is real. It’s a business and the more that you develop and the more that you learn it, the more powerful you have the potential of becoming. I’m learning it inside and out, and hopefully putting myself in a position to become a force to be reckoned with for quite some time.”
Sure, there have been some duds, but Hart has certainly made his mark on a number of critically acclaimed films in recent years. While mostly comedic in nature, his best features have successfully reached a wide and diverse audience, not just small niches. And as his Netflix comedy Me Time with Mark Wahlberg hits the masses, here’s a closer look at Hart’s finest films to date.
5 Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017)
Remember those legendary illustrated novels by Dav Pilkey? Most 90s kids certainly do. Therefore, it was a delight seeing the franchise come to the big screen in 2017. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie follows George Beard (voiced by Hart) and Harold Hutchins (Thomas Middleditch), the prankster kings of their elementary school. They write comic books in their enclave. Their favorite character is the valiant, but dim-witted, tighty-whitey wearing Captain Underpants. He always saves the day, or at least attempts to. Principal Krupp (Ed Helms), a grumpy and lonely man, has had enough of the boys’ shenanigans. He has come up with an ingenious way to end their prank tyranny. He plans to separate them. Just when it seems they are foiled, George hypnotizes the simple-brained Krupp. He is transformed into a real-life Captain Underpants. The license for prank mayhem is unleashed for the giddy culprits, until the boys realize they have bitten off more than they can chew. We can’t wait for the highly anticipated sequel. Hart’s iconic voice gives the O.G. film its pulse, and we hope to see his character return. It’s a promising film franchise, to say the least.
4 This is the End (2013)
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were clearly in agreement back in the day with the notion of, “Let’s all play ourselves and make fun of ourselves!” In most films where actors appear as themselves, it’s usually a singular cameo, but This is the End allows every actor to play heightened versions of themselves. The film’s basic plot revolves around a large group of celebrities who have come together to have a debauched party, when suddenly the apocalypse strikes. The cast all plays satirical versions of themselves, but the most impressive part of the film is how the actors are able to build off one another in improvisatory ways. “Get the f*** off me, Aziz!” is perhaps Hart’s best one-liner here, when he selfishly kicks fellow comedian Aziz Ansari off of him to avoid getting killed during the first act’s apocalyptic moment. His quick scene with Jason Segel (pictured above) is also good for a laugh.
3 35 & Ticking (2011)
35 & Ticking centers around the lives of Victoria, Zenobia, Cleavon, and Phil — all friends of a certain age and struggling to build the families they’ve always dreamed of. While Zenobia (Nicole Ari Parker) is still looking for a man, Victoria (Tamala Jones) is married to a man who doesn’t want children. Cleavon (Hart), meanwhile, is too geeky to get a woman, and Phil (Keith Robinson) is already married with children, but his wife is not very interested in being a mother. All four of them try to rectify their romantic lives and futures while their biological clocks tick away.
“The ensemble was great. Everyone gave a performance that was just breathtaking,” co-star Parker once told Blackfilm.com. “Jill Marie Jones and Tamala Jones showed a side of themselves that we haven’t seen, Dondre Whitfield, Keith Robinson, and Kevin Hart delivered with the comedy, and of course, Mike Epps. It was a pleasure to be there and a pleasure to go to work everyday.”
2 Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
This new edition of the Jumanji franchise follows a group of teenagers who find themselves trapped in the infamous game and replicated as a group of adult avatars who must complete quests in order to get home. Co-starring Hollywood heavy-hitters Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black and Karen Gillan, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was released to rave reviews and grossed almost $1 billion worldwide. Hart is dynamite in the comedic role opposite comedic greats like Johnson and Black as children trapped in adult bodies. The script is laced with laugh-out-loud one-liners as the four of them navigate the dangerous Jumanji terrain originally brought to life by none other Robin Williams in the 90s.
1 Top Five (2014)
Chris Rock has certainly been in the news this year. Rock’s Top Five digs under the surface of show business, politics, rap, and the exigencies of being Black and famous today — holding it all up to the light in the way only Rock can. Written, directed by, and starring Rock himself, Top Five tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career and the past that he’s left behind. Hart takes command of his agent character’s persona, blending smarts with edgy humor, as always. It’s too bad the Oscars didn’t show love for this one that year, but Top Five is not to be missed. Plus, watch out for that Jerry Seinfeld extended cameo!