Director: Ethan Cohen
Starring: Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Craig T. Nelson, Alison Brie, T.I
Get Hard must try harder, or just not try at all. A cringeworthy mix of racism and sexism turns what would have been just a somewhat poor comedy, into a misjudged and at times offensive film, which doesn’t deliver enough on the laughs.
Will Ferrell stars as millionaire James King, who has the perfect life, the perfect wife and the perfect mansion. That is until he is convicted of fraud and embezzlement and bound for San Quentin, a prison with a very bad reputation. In order to prepare himself for prison, James turns to Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart), who he believes has spent some time behind bars, probably because he’s black, to prepare him for anything that prison can throw at him.
The main problem with Ethan Cohen’s Get Hard is that it’s terribly naive. Cohen is no stranger to the world of comedy, having been involved in the popular TV sitcom King of the Hill and having written the script for the very funny Ben Stiller film Tropic Thunder. However, Get Hard has none of the charm and wit involved in his previous work. It feels lazy, with lots of jokes supposedly targeting stereotypes that never quite hit the mark. There are many jokes made at the expense of black people and women that are poorly written and delivered. Women are consigned to either being golddiggers (Alison Brie) or twerking black girlfriends. The sexual politics of this film are a bit all over the place.
This ain’t no longer your house, man! We in San Quentin now!
Firstly, Ferrell needs to stop doing films like this. We have seen what he’s truly capable of in such films as Stranger Than Fiction, and his comedy shtick is starting to get a bit tired now. It would be nice to get a rest from his awful fake crying and incessant shouting. His character in this film is also a bit of a conundrum. Are we really supposed to feel sorry for this extremely wealthy hedge fund manager? Making Ferrell seem as pitiful as possible doesn’t quite work. And are we really supposed to believe that people trust this character to make millions of dollars? The film also features a painful cameo from rock star heartthrob John Mayer, who is unable to play himself convincingly, let alone act.
This isn’t to say that the film is without a few laughs – more like grunts of amusement. It only just passes the six laugh test, which in itself should mean that it’s half-decent, yet there were no real belly laughs and the film is so misguided that you forget all about the slightly funnier moments.
When life throws you dick, you make dick-ade!
If Get Hard was to have one saving grace it would be Hart’s performance, who does his very best to make this film slightly palatable. All the amusing moments involve his character, and he has a certain energy onscreen that’s very infectious. You can’t help but like his character and feel a certain investment in his story. Yet even he has a certain ‘what the hell is going on’ look on his face. Sadly, his performance is not enough to pull Get Hard out of the quagmire of rubbish in which it’s found itself.
If Get Hard can do one good thing, it would be to mark the end of this brand of comedy. However, we all know that in a year’s time we will see something akin to Get Hard 2 featuring a desperate Ferrell attempt to rekindle his dwindling career. This is such a shame because of all the laughs he has delivered over the years.