“Me time” is a valuable thing. In a world of hustle culture, we often forget to take time to unwind and let go of work responsibilities. For many people, that’s hard to do, especially parents. In John Hamburg’s aptly titled film, we follow stay-at-home dad Sonny (Kevin Hart) as he finally gets the “me time” he deserves. Hamburg’s script brings about comedic discussions of parental roles and how parenthood feels like a prison that doesn’t allow parents — especially the ones who don’t “bring home the bacon” — to catch a break. But once Sonny gets that time for himself, it’s more than he bargained for.
Sonny and Huck (Mark Wahlberg) have been best friends since childhood, introduced to the audience with a cheesy profession of love and friendship as Sonny almost paraglides to his death. Their lives have taken different paths. Sonny is the responsible, stay-at-home minivan dad of two kids, with a beautiful and successful architect wife, Maya (Regina Hall). On top of that, he’s the director of the upcoming school talent show and PTA president. Huck, on the other hand, has no plans to settle down soon. He’s living that bachelor lifestyle on a “Clooney plan.” Meaning, he won’t settle until he’s all partied out. His expensive tastes lead him to throw an epic birthday party every year for himself, but Sonny hasn’t been to one in three years — he’s tired of the “stupid shit” Huck always talks him into doing.
When spring break comes around, Maya decides she wants to spend some quality time with the kids, so Sonny can take a break and have some time to himself. Figuring out what to do with his “me time” involves projectile vomiting (not the only unfunny joke involving bodily functions), but he eventually caves and goes to Huck’s party. He’s thrown completely out of his element as Huck takes his party guests (which includes Smart Guy’s Tahj Mowry) to the California desert for his own Burning Man — there’s a massive sand effigy of himself and the goal of this party is to go primal. Despite having a mini freak out at first, we see a different side of Sonny, and the party ends up being ridiculously fun. Soon, though, Huck’s carelessness and irresponsibility with money catch up with him, ruining the festivities and sees Sonny having to dig his friend out of a hole. The story derails real fast after this as Huck and Sonny go on a childish revenge mission against a client of Maya’s, who Sonny sees as a threat to his family. During this, they do meet Thelma (Ilia Isorelýs Paulino), their uber driver who ends up being the film’s MVP and provides its few moments of comedy.
Me Time has the “buddy” part of buddy comedy nailed down, but it’s lacking in real humor. It’s serviceable for some light weekend entertainment, but there have also been better films that can fit the bill. However, it’s nice to see a narrative that flips the switch and shows a stay-at-home dad. We see a man who is called a “housewife” and is unable to fit in at a table of careermen, but he can still sit there. A wife wouldn’t be even invited. It’s interesting how it plays on the perceptions of what the role of mother and father is, but the mother is still the one who feels pressured to get everything right and feels guilty when she makes mistakes. There’s a trace of shame projected upon the mother still through Hamburg’s lens, even though she’s the one providing for her family. It’s irksome at times, and there’s a missed opportunity to show how working moms should be looked at as opposed to sticking to double standards. As Maya says about others’ doubts about her opening her own business: “If I was a dad making this decision, it wouldn’t be a conversation.” We don’t bat an eye at films with traditional housewife and working husband pairings, but Me Time’s spark of a great conversation about how it could be looked at differently fizzles out with a weak script.