‘True Story’ makes its mark with vivid, suspenseful storytelling
REVIEW: True Story is a triumph because of Kevin Hart but also because of the story that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the whole wild ride
It’s nearly impossible to truly discuss Kevin Hart’s True Story without giving away key parts of this intricate show with all of its interlocking parts. I do not want to spoil this great ride for you, if you haven’t started yet. I finished the show in a day because I couldn’t turn away.
With each twist and turn Hart was pulled deeper into a mess that made me say, “What happens next?” I can say this — Hart plays one of the biggest actor-comedians in the world, a role close to who he is in real life, but through no fault of his own, he falls into a web of lowlifes and gangsters and madness. Each step he takes to try to escape gets him stuck even deeper in it, like every move he makes to get out of the spider’s web gets him even more tangled in it.
Hart isn’t playing for laughs this time and it’s fun to watch him be more dramatic, serious and mellow for once, rather than being hilarious and turnt all the way up. This dramatic Hart is very emotionally aware and he talks a lot of wisdom about himself and his feelings, which gives the Netflix show some depth.
True Story spends much of its time in the world of high-end comedy superstardom with fancy five-star hotel suites, as Hart’s character nears billionaire entertainer status, but it also dives into the grittier hoods of Philadelphia—a duality that fits with who Hart is and who he portrays. Wesley Snipes shines as Hart’s shady older brother, a man with a criminal past who relies on Hart too much.
I’m sure this is based on the story of Hart’s troubles from a few years ago, when he was betrayed by a close friend, but True Story also reminds me of a story Dave Chappelle used to tell. When Chappelle returned from his self-exile to Africa and got back onstage, he talked about why he ran away from Hollywood by telling a story that he’d pulled from Iceberg Slim, the famous author/pimp.
The story centered on an old prostitute who wanted to quit the life. Iceberg said, “Ok cool, just do one more job and you’re free to go.” She does the job but after they finish, she realizes the john is dead. She panics and calls Iceberg, who arrives and quickly assesses the situation. “This is really bad,” he says. “I can clean this up for you but you’ll owe me big time.”
“Anything,” she replies, “I don’t want to go to prison.” “Ok,” he says, “I’ll help you but the price is you’re going to have to go back to working for me all over again. You gotta stick with me for another 10 years.”
The prostitute is crestfallen but she feels like she has no choice. She accepts Iceberg’s terms and walks out, heading back to work. Once she’s gone, the john who was dead wakes up. He was never dead. He was just helping Iceberg trap her.
There’s all sorts of tricks and traps awaiting you if you know where to look. And in a great series like True Story, a yarn that keeps unspooling in crazy ways, there’s traps all over the place. True Story is a triumph because of Hart but also because of the script—the story that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the whole wild ride.
Touré is the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is also the author of seven books.
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