Review: I Can’t Make This Up

I Can’t Make This Up
I didn’t know what to expect going into this. Kevin Hart didn’t make it on my radar until a couple of years ago and I still really had no idea who he was until I saw Central Intelligence with Dwayne Johnson and then Jumanji, again with Dwayne Johnson. As an actor, he comes across as shrill and hysterical but still likeable. His performance in Central Intelligence hearkened back (in a good way) to the Alan Arkin role in the original version of The In-Laws with Peter Falk.

I saw this on sale on Audible and thought I’d give it a try. The one thing I figured I’d get was a lot of swearing. Boy was I right, there is a LOT of swearing in this book. If you’ve got an allergy to raunchy language, avoid this one. I powered through and found the story entertaining and worth the read/listen. I’m glad I got the audio version because the improv and silly riffs made the experience a lot of fun. I enjoyed the arguments Hart had with himself about things like chapter titles and the right spelling for words like desert/dessert. I don’t know how much of the text was from the original, but I liked how his personality came through.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is an inspirational book but it does illustrate the power of persistence. I came away more than a little concerned about his drinking and won’t be surprised if we hear about Kevin Hart going into rehab one of these days. Listening to the stories about his marriage were hard. His treatment of his wife was not excusable no matter how awful she was to him. To be fair, he didn’t sugarcoat it and made few excuses for himself. I also wasn’t thrilled by the flippant way he handled his DUI. This is no afterschool special and he has no responsibility to be an object lesson, but I thought he let himself off a little too easily for that and a few other mistakes he has made.

On a positive note, this is not a tell-all book. There are almost no Hollywood stories and no backstage gossip. Other than talking about smoking marijuana with Snoop Dog, which is hardly news, very little is said about his costars. I would love to have gotten some behind-the-scenes stories about people like the Rock, but I’m glad he didn’t share any embarrassing stories about them, either.

More than anything else, this is a story about Hart’s younger years and difficulties making it in show business. It’s amazing that he succeeded at all with the father that he had. I also came away with a strong dislike of this mother although it’s clear that he loved her very much. Anyone who beats their child as much as she did is not doing parenting well. I’m glad that he chooses to see it in a positive light but that’s messed up.

The book is entertaining, especially with Kevin Hart’s narration. I would recommend it to anyone with a strong tolerance for swearing and an interest in learning about people who claw their way to success. It’s not a path I would want to tread, but it was fun to retrace his steps with him. 

Four stars for entertainment value alone.

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