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May 6, 2012
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Hart the new comedy go-to guy
By MICHAEL RECHTSHAFFEN, Special to QMI Agency


Kevin Hart in The Five-Year Engagement. (Handout)

If you're a movie producer looking to give your romantic comedy a boost at the box-office, then it ought to have heart.

If you're looking to give your rom-com a little extra zing on the "com" end, then you gotta have Hart.

We're talking Kevin Hart, who has suddenly become the official go-to guy when your ensemble could use a little assistance in the laugh-getting department.

Check out last weekend's most popular movies and you'll find his name figuring into two of the Top 5 -- Think Like A Man, which must give major props to the scene-stealing Hart for its two-week chart-topping run -- and The Five-Year Engagement.

Not too shabby for the 5-foot-2 (or 5-foot-4 1/2 if you'd prefer to take the word of his website), former shoe salesman from Philly who is either 31, 32 or 33 age-wise.

Now that he's officially a Hollywood fixture, it's hard to know for sure. What we do know is that, before taking on the megaplex, he made that rare leap from comedy clubs to successful concert tours, with his Laugh At My Pain tour grossing more than $15 million.

He took time out in between dates to open MTV's VMA Awards -- he quipped that had he actually hosted the show he would have dropped one million dollars from the ceiling and gotten Oprah back on the air -- appeared on an episode of Modern Family and did a cameo in a third romantic comedy, the ultra-low-budget Exit Strategy.

Of course, things weren't always so high-flying for Hart, a prolific tweeter with almost four million followers.

Aside from assuming the role of CJ in a pair of Scary Movie sequels and playing Nurse Louis in Little Fockers, Hart's filmography had been more notably miss than hit, including better-forgotten stuff such as Soul Plane, Extreme Movie and Meet Dave among the misfires.

Mind you, the latter did give Hart an opportunity to be in a movie alongside major influence Eddie Murphy, whose stand-up style and charisma have often been likened to Hart's energetic stage presence.

For his part, Murphy is said to be a fan of Hart's, although he takes exception to the comedian's claim that his Laugh At My Pain tour broke a one-day ticket sales record previously held by Murphy's own Raw tour. Taking into consideration how much less the price of a concert ticket was 25 years ago, we're siding with Eddie on this one.

Given all the buzz, it wouldn't have been surprising to hear Hart announcing plans to do a remake of Murphy's Trading Places, but his next career move sounds considerably more daring.

He won't be expecting anybody to laugh at his pain with his upcoming portrayal of Precious McKenzie, a South African-born competitive weightlifter who overcame poverty and oppression to win several world powerlifting competitions despite his diminutive, (4-foot-9) stature.

Called The Impossible Dream, the $8-million feature, hoping to go before the cameras later this year, will co-star Nick Nolte, Kim Basinger and Tatyana Ali.

Coming from the guy who called a previous comedy tour, I'm A Grown Up Little Man, dreaming big is actually no big deal.

 

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