Film Spotlight: Road Hard

It helps to know a little about the career of comic Adam Carolla before digging into Road Hard, the new semi-autobiographical film that opens Friday at Tower City Cinemas. A few years back, Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel hosted The Man Show, a comedy show that featured pre-recorded sketches and in-studio shenanigans. It had a cult following but was ultimately cancelled after Kimmel and Carolla left in 2003. Kimmel, of course, went on to fame as a late-night TV host. Carolla hosted a few shows but didn't become famous on the same level even though his podcast has a huge following and he's written a book.

Road Hard satirizes their divergent paths as Carolla plays Bruce Madsen, a former movie and sitcom star who can't seem to get more than the occasional standup gig (and even then, he often gets shorted by penny pinching promoters). And Jay Mohr plays Jack Taylor, Bruce's friend who's become a celebrity late-night TV show host. While Bruce's agent Barry "Baby Doll" Weisman (Larry Miller) tries to get him gigs, he fails to turn up anything stellar.

Tired of staying in cheap hotels, participating in meet & greets with annoying fans and flying coach, Bruce approaches Jack about getting a gig on his late-night show. Jack acquiesces but hires him to simply "warm up" his crowd with some comedy. The gig goes awry when Bruce insults a guest and gets kicked off the show. In fact, most of Bruce's gigs go poorly as he flubs audition after audition when he refuses to cooperate or comply. The film chronicles his quest for that one quality part.

While the satire here is on target, and Carolla is just naturally funny, the film is as much about Bruce's quest for female companionship as it is about his comedy career. After his divorce, he hasn't found any women who really understand him. That is until he meets Sarah (Diane Farr). The two really connect but those moments feel forced and come off like scenes from one of those Hallmark specials during which a lonely guy finally finds a woman who understands him and transformation ensues. Kinda makes us wonder if Carolla, a real smart ass, is mellowing in his old age.