Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Pervasive Crude and Sexual Content and Language, some Graphic Nudity, and Drug Material
Directed by: Etan Cohen
Written by: Jay Martel, Ian Roberts & Etan Cohen
Starring: Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Alison Brie, Edwina Findley & Craig T. Nelson
Full disclosure: I was not expecting a lot from GET HARD. It looked like a fairly typical Will Ferrell vehicle clashed with a basic Kevin Hart comedy. Not surprisingly, it’s getting trashed by most critics. While this is far from a good film, GET HARD does have a handful of solid laughs and doesn’t really do any harm to society. It’s a by-the-numbers flick that will probably satisfy less discerning Ferrell/Hart fans who only want to sit down and watch two on-screen jackasses for 100 minutes. This is a pretty basic comedy that has a few good jokes and lots of dusty ones.
James King is a wealthy businessman with a beautiful girlfriend, a huge mansion, and lots of cash to spare. Darnell Lewis is a struggling car washer who’s trying to provide for his family in radical ways that often backfire. After King is indicted with embezzlement charges and sentenced to 10 years in San Quentin prison, he seeks the help of Darnell. Through a misunderstanding and plain racism, King mistakenly thinks that Darnell is a former convict and offers to pay him 30 grand to get himself properly prepared for the big house. With 30 days before King is sent to prison, Darnell does his best to make King as hard as possible. Wacky antics ensue.
The premise is funny by itself and offers a lot of opportunities for craziness. Will Ferrell is enjoyable to watch as King, though he’s essentially playing his same type-cast idiot character. Kevin Hart is equally enjoyable as Darnell, though he’s essentially playing his same type-cast Kevin Hart character. Nothing about either Ferrell or Hart really stood out. I just saw them as Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart as opposed to characters they were supposedly playing. While a lot of jokes in GET HARD didn’t work for me, a number of scenes got me laughing. These moments included a staged prison riot, Ferrell meeting two radically different gangs, and a lesson in fellatio. However, some gags drag on for far too long and get less funny as they go. The most notable of which is a prison yard simulation with Hart pretending to be three different kind of convicts. That scene starts off very funny and simply becomes tired after it wears out its welcome.
Besides jokes being killed by their length, a majority of this comedy feels dusty. It’s shocking that three people wrote this film as the story is overly predictable. The laughs rely far too much on homophobic and racist jokes. A couple of these scenes do work (the fellatio lesson and a Nazi hate group), but the rest of the movie feels like it’s not really trying that hard to be that funny. These are old jokes that have been seen in plenty of other films (including some starring Hart and Ferrell). You can pretty much guess the basic outline for GET HARD after a certain point in the first act and this story doesn’t do anything to stray from that formula. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem if the hilarity factor were off the charts. It should bear mentioning that the R-rating is a nice touch, allowing for many F-bombs and some nudity, but again, feels like it’s wasted on a standard script.
GET HARD is a typical Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart vehicle that goes through the motions. There are funny moments, but the jokes mostly feel dusty and familiar. The screenplay is easy to predict from the first act. Ferrell and Hart are playing the same kind of characters that they always play. There’s a definite audience who are likely to eat this film up, but I prefer many other Ferrell comedies to this movie (e.g. TALLADEGA NIGHTS, even BLADES OF GLORY). The overuse of homophobic and racist jokes is bound to rub many folks the wrong way. It’s not all out bad. GET HARD’s biggest problem is being lazy. I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it. It is simply there.