Get Hard (2015)
Editor’s Notes: The following review is part of our coverage of the 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival. Get Hard opens in wide release today, March 26th.
Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart are giants in the entertainment industry. Both performers have an immeasurable fan base and in their careers have delivered much laughter and happiness. It’s an odd choice that they agreed to work on a project that involves the lowest, most primitive forms of comedy: homophobic jokes and racism. Get Hard is a mixed bag because it does contain sporadic moments of genuine humor. The physical comedy is laugh till your face hurts funny. Let’s examine why this film will polarize audiences.
Get Hard is a mixed bag because it does contain sporadic moments of genuine humor. The physical comedy is laugh till your face hurts funny.
The introduction of both characters sets up the juxtaposition: rich, white-collar white man, and middle class, blue-collar black man. There is an opportunity to make a statement with the setup but Etan Cohen (Director) and the other five writers are more interested in college frat boy humor that is below everyone involved. Remember that 1993 film, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story? There is a bit where Lauren Holly and Jason Scott Lee attend a screening of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Holly pulls Lee out of the theatre during the scene in which Mickey Rooney plays an Asian man, yelling and shouting like a cartoon. The entire audience is laughing while Lee sits there trying to stay calm. This WILL happen with some audiences for Get Hard. We live in a world where many walls have been broken down. As a society we need to reduce racism, bullying and be more welcoming of the LGBT community. Perhaps I’m barking up the wrong tree with a silly film like this but it’s irresponsible because this will turn off a percentage of their fans.
James King (Ferrell) was convicted of corporate theft and sentenced to 10 years in prison. King enlists Darnell Lewis (Hart) to toughen him up for prison. King doesn’t ask Lewis if he’s been to prison, he just assumes he’s been to prison because he’s black. (Insert laughter here) Lewis plays along because he figures he can exploit King for the down payment on the home he wants to purchase for his family. Therein lies the first major silly plot point that the audience needs to overlook, a man in King’s position will have all of his assets frozen. Unless he has money hidden under his mattress, his promise of money to Lewis is an empty promise. The reason behind all of this is because Lewis tells King that he will be raped in prison. There are numerous sequences where prison rape is the punch line. There is a knuckle-headed sequence in which Lewis takes King to a gay hangout and tells him that he must learn to give a blow job to survive prison. The audience is treated to male full frontal all in the name of shock humor that only sets us back 30 years. Ha ha it’s funny because kneeling in front of an aroused homosexual grosses out a heterosexual male. We are in the year 2015, right?
Hart’s best moments are when he’s at home with his family and when he isn’t talking about prison rape.
With the ugliness out of the way there are some genuine, hilarious moments in the film. Ferrell and Hart are given moments to get completely unhinged. Hart’s best moments are when he’s at home with his family and when he isn’t talking about prison rape. There is a moment where he allows himself to be put in place by his wife and it’s absolutely hysterical. Ferrell is content with trading blows with Hart. Ferrell is no stranger to sharing the laughs and spotlight with his co-stars. I would certainly line up to watch another film with these two performers, as long as it’s with different writers and a different director.
Perhaps this is the case of too many cooks in the kitchen. A glance at IMDB reveals six writer credits. Did this pass through too many hands? Was Cohen’s directorial debut doomed from the start? Cohen has an impressive comedic resume. He penned the scripts for: Idiocracy, Tropic Thunder, Men in Black 3 along with many credits in TV shows such as Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill.
Overall, Get Hard is a disappointment for everyone involved. There is no doubt many audience members will thoroughly enjoy this film. We hate to comment on the folks who will enjoy this film but if you stop and look at what you’re laughing at in this film, you’re laughing at things that are frowned upon these days. It wasn’t long ago that homophobia was widely accepted in the mainstream but this is the year 2015. This is further proof that we have a long way to go as a society.
Get Hard is a disappointment for everyone involved with sporadic moments of genuine humor.