REVIEW: True Story Loses Itself With A Meta-Premise And Inane Plot Points
True Story is the latest Netflix original limited series, following on the heels of shows like Queen’s Gambit. But this time around, it’s a weird little show that’s part thriller and part drama. But not really able to handle either of those genres too well.
The series features Kevin Hart and Wesley Snipes in the lead roles. And besides these two leading men behind the project, True Story has really nothing else going for it. It’s an outlandish plot, not at all backed up by the performances of these amazing actors, or the plot points that make it that much harder to enjoy this show. Check out my True Story series review and be sure to chime in with your thoughts.
Please note: This 'True Story' series review will be full of spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled, check out the series on Netflix and come on back to the review.
True Story’s Premise Is Its Weirdest Choice In Storytelling
True Story starts off with the pitfalls of celebrity life, and how it puts a target on your back. It’s a great idea, but very poorly executed, losing that concept somewhere after the first episode. When the country’s biggest movie star gets caught in a scandal, he goes to great lengths to protect his secret, mostly to his own detriment. True Story could have been a fascinating look at how celebrity culture works in Hollywood, and how it affects the start himself, not to mention those in his orbit. But one aspect of this premise makes it really hard to relate to, or follow along.
Kid is the celebrity movie star, on the rise of superstardom after a huge box office hit superhero movie. But when his ne’er-do-well brother Carlton shows up on the scene after his arrival to his hometown, things go awry. A wild night of drinking leads to Kid waking up in his hotel room, with a dead girl beside him. Promising to take care of things, Carlton and Kid become embroiled in a story that promises to be a thriller. But here’s the weirdest thing about this so far, Kid, played by Kevin Hart, is a comedian, very much mirroring Hart’s own real-life career and success. And that’s odd for many reasons.
When Real Life Interferes In Fictional Character Development
Kevin Hart is a comedian who has become a huge movie star with hits like the Jumanji movies, Central Intelligence and much more. Hart’s stand-up comedy and many of his comedic roles in movies have something in common. Hart plays to his small stature as an irate, ranting and raving, always stressed out kind of a character. His bits are of him yelling, screaming and just being generally upset about things in a funny way. It’s always played for jokes, and it’s honestly a shtick that works. Especially when paired up against Dwayne Johnson’s calmer and more collected characters.
True Story takes that part of Hart’s performance and just transplants it into this series’ dramatic setting. So when Kid is placed in a life or death situation and he reacts in the same manner as Hart’s comedy routines, it’s hard to take him seriously. For the first episode of True Story, going into it with no prior knowledge, I didn’t know if the series was meant to be a dark comedy or a straight-faced drama. And that’s simply because of Hart’s performance. The show hinges on the idea that Kid is a man pushed too far, resorting to killing the man trying to extort him. But it’s never believable because you’re seeing Hart the comedian, possibly doing a bit. Why not make Hart a musician or another type of celebrity, removing him from this real-life persona, I’ll never understand.
So when Kid is placed in a life or death situation and he reacts in the same manner as Hart’s comedy routines, it’s hard to take him seriously.
True Story Doesn’t Really Know What It Wants To Be
Another problem with True Story is that it doesn’t really know what it wants to be. Like any good TV show, it starts with a variety of characters, such as Kid, his brother Carlton (Wesley Snipes), his manager Todd (Paul Adelstein), his driver-slash-bodyguard Herschel (William Catlett) and his joke-writer Billie (Tawny Newsome). There’s some development with Billie, who wants to do more than write jokes for Kid. So she tries her own stand-up show, and it’s huge, then she gets a shot to open for Kid at Madison Square Garden. There’s another character telling her to look out for herself. And she’s also in a relationship with Herschel. But none of it, absolutely none of it, goes anywhere. No pay off to any of those setups by the end.
Snipes has an incredible screen presence, but the show squanders it all. Ultimately, the climactic twist feels empty and hollow.
Even the most compelling character of the show, Carlton himself, played perfectly by Snipes, comes across one-dimensional. None of the big reveals or twists utilize Snipe’s acting ability in any way that’s meaningful or significant. Snipes has an incredible screen presence, but the show squanders it all. Ultimately, the climactic twist feels empty and hollow. The show opens with Kid seemingly confessing to the camera or audience to killing his own brother. But the show reveals in the end that it’s actually a CNN interview. One where he ominously is implying all these things, even though in the story, he gets away with it all. It’s weird, odd and just plain ridiculous at times.
True Story is now streaming on Netflix.
What did you think of this limited series?
Images via Netflix.