Get Hard - This Movie Rocks The Racist, Homophobic, Male Prison Rape Card. But Not Too Much Else
Dir: Etan Cohen
Starring Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Alison Brie, Craig T. Nelson
Get Hard – it’s a movie that makes jokes at the beginning about men talking about “getting hard” around each other. It’s a movie that is still milking the same gag at the end. In between it has some moments that will make you laugh. In between it aims higher (well, tries to) than it ever comes close to achieving.
The critics already hate it, the audiences have showed up. The reason for the former is the vast amount of blatantly racist, homophobic gags – this is at its core a movie about Will Ferrell not wanting to forcibly take it up the arse when he goes to jail. So he hires a black man – hey, because all black men must have been to jail – to teach him how to “get hard” for the inside (Sid James would be laughing right now.)
The thing is Cohen as first time director thinks this is all OK because he’s not being racist, homophobic etc. He’s being satirical about same. Which is a nice ambition, but the screenplay – and the performances – simply aren’t smart enough to pull such satire off. (Oy!– Sid James – stop laughing at the back!)
To give the dog its due, by going to such extremes, Get Hard can’t help but deliver a decent amount of laughs, not just by pushing the envelope but by having two very willing and occasionally able actors.
Ferrell starts the film with what feels like the exact same by-the-book “Will Ferrell performance” he seems to have been giving for years now. But as the film progresses and his character becomes more desperate, he improves greatly. Don’t get us wrong, the performance doesn’t get “better”, but it does get “funnier.” Hart meanwhile, when he turns down the high-speed edge of his stand up, is becoming a more and more watchable screen performer. There’s a sequence here – the tennis court/yard moment – when he goes multi-character, which is more akin to psychodrama than comedy. And very well performed, and very well directed, to Cohen’s credit.
But the film wants to be clever, and has trouble hitting the mark, especially in its final act in which the already blindingly obvious becomes even more one dimensional.
More than just a racist, sexist, homophobic, white male fear of black prison rape movie – but nowhere as good as it would like to be. But you probably will laugh.
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