The Man From Toronto, starring Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson, is a terribly unfunny Netflix dud

Director Patrick Hughes made it big with 2017 The Hitman’s bodyguardand since then he has doubled down on that winning template, first with its follow-up in 2021 Hitman’s wife’s bodyguard and now with The man from Toronto, another action comedy that pairs black and white protagonists with professional assassins in a wild and violent misadventure. In this case, that duo is Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson, who find themselves embroiled in murderous international espionage thanks to the kind of mistaken identity mishap that would make an episode feel right at home The company of three. Factor in Hart’s usual Little Man schtick, and what you get is exactly the kind of second-rate big studio feature (by Sony in this case) that’s now being unceremoniously sold to Netflix and dumped on Netflix.

In a scenario that remembers central intelligence, In his 2016 collaboration with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Hart is Teddy Jackson, a salesman for a local gym who constantly tries – and fails – to launch his own line of unique private label exercise equipment, be it Teddy Band (a resistance band that smacks him in the face), Teddy Burn (a garbage bag-like tracksuit that makes him pass out), or Teddy Bar (a pull-up bar that collapses when used). Teddy’s amateur videos online confirm that he’s a loser, and that impression is reinforced when his wife, Lori (Jasmine Mathews), tells him that her law firm’s term for screwing up is “Teddy’d.” Since his boss also thinks he is incompetent, Teddy turns out to be a typical Hart character: a tearful, cowardly loser without the confidence and tenacity to succeed. In other words, he’s a “faggot” who needs to learn to be a man.

Hart’s big screen comedies often revolve around such masculinity issues, and here they are thrown into sharp relief by Teddy’s decision to wow Lori by taking her to a cabin and spa retreat in Virginia for her birthday. This plan goes haywire from the start, as Teddy doesn’t refill the toner in his home printer and consequently can’t read the correct address of their lodge on his printout. Instead, the cabin he visits turns out to be populated by two menacing thugs overseeing the torture of a prisoner. These menaces believe that Teddy is the Toronto Man, a famous hitman whose reputation is such that they are dying to watch him work his gruesome magic. Teddy, of course, is appalled by this turn of events. But fearing he’ll be killed if he doesn’t do what they want him to do, he rushes to get the information they want, which prompts the FBI to show up, kill the bad guys, and kidnap Teddy.

The FBI knows Teddy is just a nobody, but since The Man from Toronto’s client — a ousted Venezuelan colonel — now believes Teddy is his hired gun, they hire him to keep this ruse going long enough to catch an upcoming Plan to thwart blowing up Venezuelan embassy. However, all of this plot is so much MacGuffin-esque nonsense aimed at moving things from one absurd set piece to the next. Moreover, the details of the narrative are mere window dressing for Hart’s wailing and wriggling male child and cantankerous bickering with the real Toronto man, played by Woody Harrelson as the menacing master of his murderous trade. The Toronto man has a kitchen full of guns and cash, a penchant for 19thCentury American poetry, a cute 1969 Dodge Charger and an origin story involving his grandfather and a hungry bear (the latter is tattooed on his back) and he doesn’t like that Teddy is impersonating him – a situation that she ends up in an unlikely partnership.

Toronto is gruff and confident, Teddy is cocky and cowardly, and their banter is the whole reason The man from Toronto exist. Unfortunately, the screenplay by Robbie Fox and Chris Bremner doesn’t come up with a single funny line – neither does Hart and Harrelson, though the former riffs are in search of an exquisite tangent. Most notable of these traits, Toronto refers to John Keats with a masculine pronoun, and Teddy responds with, “He may no longer identify as him. It’s about being gender neutral. Obviously you didn’t get the message. what’s your deal You don’t know who you’re insulting… You now owe yourself a gender-neutral apology.” It’s not clear if this is the star’s attempt to atone for his past homophobic jokes (his refusal to apologize for them got him off his appearance as Oscar host fired in 2019) or a rebuke to those who blame him, but it’s about as leaden as the rest of the material, never getting past the central idea that Toronto is helping Teddy become more macho , and that Teddy is teaching Toronto to relax.

“Unfortunately, the screenplay by Robbie Fox and Chris Bremner doesn’t come up with a single funny line – neither does Hart and Harrelson, though the former riffs are in search of an exquisite tangent.”

There are a few subplots scattered throughout The man from Toronto, including Lori, who is being mentored by a handsome FBI agent while her husband is away saving the world (which unsettles Teddy’s chagrin), and Lori’s friend Anne (Kaley Cuoco), who’s instantly hooked on Toronto. It’s hard to imagine why Cuoco would take on a thankless supporting role in an affair like this, but it’s also hard to understand why anyone would want to be a part of this hackneyed programmer. Ellen Barkin makes sporadic appearances as Toronto’s mysterious and devious handler, and Toronto and Teddy are forced to go head-to-head with a rival assassin – Pierson Fode’s The Man from Miami – while also developing a bond that benefits both of them. Even though these things happen, they aren’t significant, leaving the impression that the film is best suited for sleepy Sunday afternoon screenings when you can doze through parts of the proceedings and not miss a thing.

Resting a project like this on the shoulders of two popular headliners is a sensible strategy in and of itself. However, Hughes fails to enact comedic rat-a-tat exchanges or CGI-enhanced mayhem, and both flaws are apparent The man from Toronto, whose wit is DOA and whose plot is at the same time artfully orchestrated and completely devoid of novelty. It’s not so much offensive as deranged – a photocopy of a photocopy of legions of better films. The Man From Toronto, starring Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson, is a terribly unfunny Netflix dud


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