Mark Wahlberg gets to play second-fiddle to Kevin Hart in a role any actor could play well in Me Time, now streaming on Netflix.

Wahlberg plays Huck Dembo, who runs a digital agency and wants to celebrate his 44th birthday in style at a secluded desert getaway in California, where he’s made a giant effigy of himself that he plans to burn with his good-natured, hipster friends.

Huck is a bit of a child who wants to live a grand life like George Clooney — his idol who lived a grand life and became an ideal family man when the time came to settle down (Clooney and Wahlberg are the best of friends in real life, by the way).

So, he takes out a 47,000 dollar loan from a guy called Stanley (Jimmy O. Yang) — who anyone would mistake as a spectacle-wearing college nerd — and then plans to escape the country.

Me Time is a meek version of what could have been a very entertaining film that came out 10 or 15 years ago, while Day Shift is entertaining and forgettable in the same vein

Stanley, with his Israeli hitwoman Dorit (Shira Gross), tracks Huck to the getaway and, as you’d expect, things turn from bad to worse.

The thing is, Me Time is not about Huck. The film is actually about Sonny (Hart), a stay-at-home dad.

Sonny’s a good guy who was Huck’s best buddy and backbone, until he got married and was relegated to his ideal ‘house husband’ status because his wife (Regina Hall) was gaining success as an architect. Sonny became so good at taking care of the kids that he became the envy of everyone at his children’s school.

Everyone knows that Sonny is trying very hard to become a value addition to his wife, the kids and the school (he does every school activity with enthusiasm) but, in his new role, he has all but forgotten how to live his life (ergo, the title of the film).

Me Time is a meek version of what could have been a very entertaining film that came out 10 or 15 years ago, when Will Farrell and Steve Carell’s careers were peaking. Written specifically for Netflix (it is their ‘original’, duh!), the production reeks of cost-cutting rewrites.

Still, Me Time isn’t that bad. It’s the type of family-friendly film, with a handful of restrained adult jokes, that 20-somethings can laugh at. For the 40-year-olds the film is targeting, it would feel more than a bit lame.

Day Shift

Bud Jablonski (Jamie Foxx) hunts vampires, and sells their teeth to make a living in Day Shift — an action film that feels like a generic studio movie from before the time superheroes all but took over big-budget filmmaking.

Featuring a good number of contortionist stuntmen and women, who bend over in weird postures before being gunned down and pulled by wires across rooms, Day Shift is entertaining, and forgettable in the same vein.

Bud has an ex-wife, the mother of his daughter, who is itching to take the child away and sell her house. What his ex-wife doesn’t know is that the big real estate saleswoman (Karla Souza), with whom she will be doing business, leads a vampire coven… and that the head vampire’s daughter (who was also a vampire) was killed by Bud.

Snoop Dogg plays a fabled cowboy vampire hunter and Bud’s friend who helps him become a union vampire hunter, because freelance doesn’t pay well. But there is a catch: Bud has to have a ride-along supervisor named Seth (Dave Franco) tag along on his day shift until his probation period is over.

Although there are hints of a buddy action-comedy in Day Shift, under the surface, the film is about a dad trying to make sure that his family stays together, and that he provides an adequate — if not the best — life for them.

The family angle isn’t newfangled by any means, but it helps with the story’s emotional angle. Otherwise, the film is all stunts and action.

Me Time is rated suitable for ages 16 and over. The film is written and directed by John Hamburg (Along Came Polly and I Love You, Man).

Rated suitable for ages of 18 and over, Day Shift is written by Tyler Tice and Shay Hatten (John Wick: Chapter 3, Army of the Dead) and produced by Chad Stahelski (the director of the John Wick films). The film is the directorial debut of long-time stuntman and action choreographer J.J. Perry (another of Stahelski’s associates) and it shows.

Both films are Netflix Originals

Published in Dawn, ICON, September 4th, 2022

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