Adam Carolla mines his own career trajectory for worn-out dramedic pap in Road Hard, in which the comedian plays autobiographical proxy Bruce, a former host of The Bro Show who now flounders about doing stand-up in obscure clubs while his past partner (Jay Mohr) thrives as a successful late-night talk show star.
This based-on-real-events setup initially fuels Carolla’s caustic one-liners both onstage and during his day-to-day, which consists of hanging out with showbiz buddies (David Alan Grier, Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal), meeting with his toupee-wearing, bimbo-loving agent (Larry Miller), and trying to convince his daughter (Cynthy Wu) to go to an affordable college.
Those scenarios are all rooted in a particular brand of Hollywood desperation, though Carolla’s stilted screen presence and groan-worthy zingers neuter any humor from Bruce’s needy quest to return to the spotlight. Eventually, a romantic interest (Diane Farr) affords the comic an opportunity to find true contentment in the thing he most loves…which turns out to be woodworking in rural New Hampshire?
That’s almost as laughably contrived as Bruce’s third-act choice between professional fame and personal contentment — a dilemma whose corny resolution runs counter to Road Hard‘s transparent function as a comeback vehicle for its headliner.