***1/2 (out of 5)
March 27, 2015
Will Ferrell as JAMES
Kevin Hart as DARNELL
Craig T. Nelson as MARTIN
Alison Brie as ALISSA
Edwina Findley Dickerson as RITA
Ariana Neal as MAKAYLA
Erick Chavarria as CECELLO
T.I. as RUSSELL
Paul Ben-Victor as GAYLE
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Etan Cohen
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
While I am not the kind of person to automatically like any comedy that comes down the pike, I tend to be easier on them than most critics. After all, I grew up watching comedies in the 80s, and I was able to laugh at a lot of things outside of the critically-approved line-up of John Hughes movies.
And yes, I thoroughly hate some comedies I’ve seen over the years, but I generally don’t hate on any particular actor, and I can find something entertaining in a lot of movies even if the stars are not at the top of their game. So when a film like “Get Hard” comes down the pike, I don’t approach it with the dread that I think some people have. And in the long run, I end up having a good time because I’m not expecting anything groundbreaking or even memorable past the first couple weeks of theatrical release.
“Get Hard” is a hard-R comedy starring Will Ferrell as James King, a wall street golden boy who is arrested and convicted of white collar crimes. The judge makes an example out of him and sentences him to four years in a maximum security prison, or what Michael Bolton in “Office Space” would call “pound me in the ass prison.” Terrified of this concept, James hires car-washer Darnell (Kevin Hart) to teach him to survive on the inside. Of course, Darnell has never been to prison himself – James only assumes that because he’s black – but he takes the job because he needs the money.
Much of the set-up of “Get Hard” serves very little purpose than to pave the way for ninety minutes of prison rape jokes, which build on a terrifying and real concept but are passed off as humor. A lot of critics have been targeting the film as being homophobic, but I don’t necessarily see it that way.
Sure, there’s an awful lot of James and Darnell going back and forth on how to handle sexual assault, but the real fear that James feels is for the violation rather than being judgmental about homosexuality. In fact, I don’t recall any point in which homosexuality is presented as gross or horrifying in itself. There’s even a scene where the characters visit a gay hangout to see if James can work on some skillz of his own. And while the gay atmosphere is played off in a stereotypically funny way, it’s not demonized or degraded.
Instead, the preponderance of anal and oral sex jokes are framed around James potentially being forced to do it. In this sense, “Get Hard” becomes an unlikely candidate for bringing a discussion about rape and sexual assault to the mainstream… and that’s a pretty important thing considering how much these topics have been permeating the 24-hour news cycle.
Still, “Get Hard” is not trying to be progressive or to even have a message. Aside from some pretty clever and spot-on criticism of institutionalized racism and the illusion of how many of the one-percenters building their wealth from nothing, it’s really nothing more than a raunchy comedy.
And that’s okay. It made me laugh.
You’d be hard-pressed to find two more different comedians than Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, and I’m not just talking about their physical appearance. Their comedy styles and deliveries are very different, but they do work well together. These two have good chemistry, and I’d like to see more of them teaming up. Right now, Hollywood is trying to find another mainstream star to pair with Hart to break him out of the movies that rely strictly on race. In the end, I Hart might end up helping Ferrell out more with this flick because Hart’s R-rated content seems to perform better than Ferrell’s.
Oh, and one final thought on “Get Hard”… Allison Brie in lingerie. Yes, please!