A crude comedy starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, fraught with cliche stereotypes and offensive humour. This is going to be the description a lot of people who watch Get Hard will jump to, but – assuming they are offended by one of the many exaggerated stereotypes in the film – they will probably throw in terms like “unfunny” and “poorly acted” too. Unfunny – well that’s subjective – but poorly acted would be incorrect here. Both Hart and Ferrell share an on-screen chemistry which we haven’t seen in a Ferrell film since Step Brothers, and it uplifts them both to give some of their best performances to date.
Let’s be honest here, many people are going to pan this film and they are going to do it based off morals. We live in a society that has come a long way with sexism, homophobia, and racism, despite there still being a lot of sexists, homophobes, and racists out there. In this movie those qualities are associated with an idiot – Will’s character of James King. Ferrell often portrays idiots that have come into some sort of power and he does it better than the rest; think of Ron Burgundy, Chazz Michael Michaels, Frank (from Old School); these have all given him a character which can be used to satirise certain qualities. And satirising a naive banker-type who holds some of the most offensive stereotypes to our society is exactly what Get Hard does.
Some reviews out there state that you have be a sexist, racist, and homophobe to enjoy any bit of this movie; but then you’d have to be all three to enjoy any stand up routine in the existence of mankind. People are jumping all over this because it’s a comedy film, and comedy films are easy targets.
Written by Jay Martel and Ian Roberts, Get Hard follows the structure of most comedies, but holds off on the laughs for the first 30 or so minutes. This dull start stumbles to introduce the main players in this conspiracy. There’s Martin (Craig T Nelson), the head of the firm King works for. There’s Alison Brie as Alissa, Martin’s shallow daughter who is marrying King for his success. And then, all the way across the other side of town in the ‘poor’ area is Darnell (Kevin Hart) who is really struggling with life and washes cars in the parking lot of Martin’s firm.
Things don’t really pick up until we do get into the nitty gritty of those stereotypes. When King is framed for a white collar crime, he enlists Darnell’s help to prepare for life in prison, and how to avoid prison rape. The problem is that Darnell has never been to prison; he just happens to be black and King just happens to be a really naive, ignorant racist. Darnell agrees to help King after finding out he can make the cash he needs from this, in order to move his family out of a rough neighbourhood.
The fear of being raped is what serves as the main motivation for King to learn from Darnell on how to ‘get hard’. Que many, many jokes about ‘sucking dick’ and getting primed for rape in ‘the yard’. All these scenes are undoubtedly out to do what many stand ups do, offend people. Many of them are incredibly well-acted though, particularly the false ‘yard’ scene where Hart does a brilliant job of playing three characters at once, racing around King to show him the different gangs he will be facing and what typically goes down in the yard of a prison; from the perspective of someone who has never been to prison. The humour here is side-splitting but that all depends on you; whether or not you are adult enough to switch off and allow the movie to be fun for those people who know that morals and art don’t always mix.
The usual rollercoaster narrative appears and eventually Darnell and King need to confront certain truths about each other, but this isn’t drawn out. The film stays on course for the most part and remains consistently funny throughout, even managing to throw in a bit of action.
The chemistry between Ferrell and Hart is what will get you here, with a warmth that all good comedies seem to have. However, if you can’t ‘switch off’ those morals for a film, then chemistry isn’t going to make you enjoy the movie. It really comes down to you here, but if you are someone who enjoys a good comedy, you will enjoy this.
Review Score: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Running time: 100 minutes
Get Hard is out in Australian cinemas now