Hart and Harrelson are hit and miss


PG-13 | 1h 52min | Comedy, Action, Adventure, Crime | June 24, 2022

Trying much harder than necessary, “The Man From Toronto” (TMFT) is a wide-ranging, mismatched buddy comedy, cut from much the same cloth as the “48 Hours,” “Lethal Weapon,” “Bad Boys”, “Men in Black” and “Austin Powers”.

Also containing elements of ‘John Wick’, ‘Midnight Run’ and ‘RED’, it’s spinoff like everyone else and works just over half the time. The best that can be said: it’s never boring and ends much better than it begins.

Finally debuting on Netflix after several release date changes by original distributor Sony-Columbia, “TMFT” stars Woody Harrelson as the main character called Toronto (his Christian and surnames are never revealed) , a kind of repairman, who is regularly hired by a woman over the phone, known only as “The Handler”, played by Ellen Barkin.

Kevin Hart and Ellen Barkin in “The Man From Toronto.” (Netflix)

Toronto’s job is to extract sensitive or damning information from insiders, informants and possibly or not defectors affiliated with underworld types after all other similar attempts by others have failed.

Muscle car character

Toronto arrives at any job with an assortment of towering cutlery and tackles its subject with a short childhood story involving his grandfather and a bear on a frozen lake, promising serious disfigurement if they don’t cooperate. Most of them do. He then shares his cherry 1969 Dodge Charger 440 R/T, his most adored possession that he calls Debora, who immediately becomes an inanimate character.

The next Toronto gig will be on the east coast of Virginia, which happens to be the destination getaway spot for Teddy (Kevin Hart) and his wife Lori (Jasmine Mathews) for their wedding anniversary (which Teddy always forgets ).

A failure on almost every level, Teddy has just been fired by a local gym owner after delivering one insane marketing idea after another. He’s so incompetent that Lori’s co-workers turned his noun into a verb; if you’ve messed something up, you’ve “knotted” it.

Because Teddy forgot to replace his printer’s ink toner, he thinks the house number on his booking confirmation says “1465” instead of “1485”. The guys at 1465 mistake him for Toronto, take him to a basement to start his job where he summarily freaks out, or in other words he starts behaving like Kevin Hart in pretty much every other movie he’s been in appeared.

Hart goes full stereotype

Screaming in a high-pitched moan while thrashing and writhing, the small, bewildered Hart is a one-trick pony. He’s been lucky enough to hypnotize just enough people to make them think he’s the second coming of Eddie Murphy or Richard Pryor so they’ll line up to see him in anything.

To Hart’s credit, he got into drama in 2021 in the Netflix limited series “True Story” alongside Wesley Snipes which was… not very good.

For his part, Harrelson is cucumber cold; he’s the mysterious, straight-faced man who channels Johnny Cash’s “man in black,” doing his best to offset Hart’s spasmodic histrionics and, for the most part, succeeding. His greatest task is to provide a certain level of measured danger, a calculating mystique, and an unwavering knowledge of everything going on around him, without revealing that he’s the co-lead of a glorified B-movie.

Things get really interesting midway through the second act with the arrival of the menacing “Man From Miami” (Pierson Fodé, TV soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful”), another tool in The Handler’s wheelhouse who is brought in when he looks like Toronto might not be able to fulfill his duties.

Big, dark and dangerous

A former model, Fodé makes the most of what could have been a laughable, disposable part by turning a golf putter into a multipurpose weapon and becoming that guy who won’t go away.

Epoch Times Photo
Pierson Fodé as the man from Miami in “The Man from Toronto”. (Sabrina Lantos/Netflix)

If Fodé has a talent or ability to master accents, his agent should put him in touch with Barbara Broccoli (the co-producer of the James Bond franchise). This guy would be perfect as the next (or future) 007. Imagine a six-inch, completely ripped-up younger version of Jude Law.

At one point the second highest-paid network television actress (behind Sofia Vergara), Kaley Cuoco appears late in the game as Anne, Lori’s best friend who gets stuck in a nonsensical subplot. designed to occupy Teddy’s better half during his unexplained “absence”. .” Currently starring in the acclaimed dark comedy thriller series ‘The Flight Attendant’, Cuoco has taken a step back in his career in a role that would typically have been given to a has-been or up-and-comer.

Career improvement?

In a left-handed way, “TMFT” is actually a career milestone for director Patrick Hughes, who after an impressive feature debut (“Red Hill” from 2010) went on to produce the putrid “Expendables 3” and the even worse “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” franchise. If there hadn’t been so many (three) cooks in the script and story kitchen, “TMFT” might have had a better chance of making a good first impression.

Epoch Times Photo
Kevin Hart as Teddy (left) and Woody Harrelson as the man from Toronto in ‘The Man From Toronto’. (Netflix)

It also might have helped the filmmakers concoct a storyline that wasn’t just another tired “crazy plot retread with a bombshell making a political statement.”

Harrelson or Hart are unlikely to be interested in making a sequel, but with the amount of other “The Man From [fill in the blank]” that appear along the way, it would be entirely possible to create a series of these instantly forgettable mustard puppies. Worse things could happen.

“The Man from Toronto”
Director: Patrick Hughes
With: Woody Harrelson, Kevin Hart, Ellen Barkin, Kaley Cuoco, Jasmine Mathews, Pierson Fode
Duration: 1 hour 52 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release date: June 24, 2022
Rating: 3 out of 5


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