Reel Reviews | True Story

by Tim Gordon

A superstar comedian gets more than he bargains for he crosses paths with his troublesome big brother in this limited-series crime drama, True Story.

The story focuses on Kid (Kevin Hart), one of the biggest comedians in the industry. Coming off a billion-dollar project and selling out comedy tours worldwide, Kid is flying high. Surrounded by his small team of confidants, his manager Todd (Paul Adelstein), head writer, Billie (Tawny Newsome), and bodyguard Hershel (William Catlett), Kid has all the ingredients not just to maintain his success but room for it to expand.

But amidst all the happy feelings, small cracks are beginning to show. Billie is not happy with how most of her material is not being used or suffering small microaggressions from his fans, Kid is just one hard push from going over the edge. Soon the star finds himself in his hometown of Philadelphia as he is preparing for a series of promotions. There he reconnects with his older brother Carlton (Wesley Snipes) who has a reputation for many failed investments, usually bankrolled by Kid, that have been unsuccessful.

Instead of using the good judgment that has made him successful, around his brother, he reverts to some old habits and before long finds himself embroiled in a career-ending scandal. It will take everything he can muster to avoid losing everything and everyone close to him.

Hart has dabbled in more dramatic roles recently, including Fatherhood and The Upside but both of those performances pale in comparison to his work in this series. Working with a preeminent dramatic actor in Snipes, Hart is forced to step his game up to match his co-star’s smoldering intensity. Time will tell if his efforts prove successful.

Hart has largely made his bones with primarily comedic fare and has been very successful. Along with his stand-up career and entrepreneurial efforts working with Peacock and Sirius XM, he has become one of the richest entertainers in the industry. His personal story and challenges mirror those of Kid, which adds an additional element of buzz to the series.

As Hart continues to transition to more dramatic roles, Snipes has displayed consistent versatility and star power for close to four decades. From his iconic portrayals of crime figures in New Jack City, Sugar Hill, and Brooklyn’s Finest, Snipes has excelled in these stories with scary authenticity often displaying a nuance of coldness and distance blended with charisma that makes you want to root for him despite his often-despicable actions.

TRUE STORY (L to R) KEVIN HART as KID and WESLEY SNIPES as CARLTON in episode 102 of TRUE STORY Cr. ADAM ROSE/NETFLIX © 2021

Reportedly, before taking the film, Snipes warned Hart that if he would be involved with this project that he would bring the intensity to his portrayal and that if Hart wasn’t interested in matching that, he should look for another co-star. Through the many twists and turns, the story takes Hart goes head-to-head with the formidable Snipes as he fights to maintain his image and his freedom.

Written by Eric Newman (Narcos), True Story is a complicated look at stardom and the dark underbelly of expectations and perceptions that comes along with it. The story successfully weaves all the exaggerated elements, one could assume, that is loosely based on Hart, himself buoyed by strong performances from the star, Catlett, Adelstein, and Snipes. It is often said to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. The film asks the audience to consider what to do when they are both one and the same.

Grade: B

True Story debuts on Netflix, November 24

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