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Get Hard (2015)

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Score: 6/10

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 40 min.

Release Date: March 27th, 2015 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Etan Cohen Actors: Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Craig T. Nelson, Alison Brie, Ariana Neal, Paul Ben-Victor

“G

et Hard” thrives off fantastical, situational satire embellished by the predictable comedy routines of stars Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart. Though it falters when it dives into vacuous humor of the vulgar variety, the chemistry between its leads and the slew of jabs at stereotypes and facades elicits laughs at an impressively steady rate. The premise – and its subsequent utilization of extreme opposites – is clever, but it’s the energetic back-and-forth banter between Ferrell and Hart that outshines both the gross-out stunts and the easy punches at such blaringly malapropos fakers.

With his fancy cars, palatial residence, and adoring fiancé (Alison Brie), millionaire James King (Will Ferrell) seems to have it all. But everything changes in a heartbeat for the senior fund manager when he’s convicted of fraud and embezzlement and is handed the strictest possible sentence for the crimes: ten years in a maximum-security penitentiary. Frantic for help in coping with the perils of lockup, King hires straight-laced carwash entrepreneur Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) to prepare him; King is under the mistaken assumption that the Hollywood Luxury Bubbles owner spent time in jail, simply because of his ethnicity. Desperate for the promised payment of $30,000, and realizing that he only needs to act the part to get the money, Lewis conducts a rigorous regimen of prison scenario reenactments to ready the disgraced investor for life on the inside.

Here’s a movie that doesn’t have to depend on the natural innuendo derived from its title (though suggestive comments are certainly made), since the major premise is to thwart certain prison rape. The subject matter and conversations are blunt and somewhat shocking, yet largely humorous (not that they should be) in the frank exchanges and verbal depictions of anal and oral violations. Nevertheless, “Get Hard” falls into the expected design of containing graphic nudity, which is actually the last thing it needs; apparently, the filmmakers felt that by excluding shots of exposed male genitalia, they’d be losing out on a chance at memorable sight gags. Sadly, those moments retain little humor and merely serve to distract from the bits of genuine comedy that come from Ferrell playing Ferrell and Hart playing Hart.

“Just so you know, I’d have done the same thing if you were white.” Both stars are very good at their shticks, with intentional unintelligence and exaggerated façade fitting their routines nicely. And what makes the production even more successful is the decision to include two different fish-out-of-water scenarios. It’s outrageous to see Ferrell’s representations of overblown stereotypes (plenty of race jokes abound) and just as amusing to see Hart’s own delineations of behavior behind bars, born from movies and media rather than experience. The radical contrasts between broadly drawn assumptions about San Quentin and King’s marginally sympathetic millionaire (ludicrously excessive wealth makes an easy target for villainy) also give rise to laugh-out-loud sequences and a perpetual bordering on bad taste.

One of the elements that detracts from the basic setup is the severity of the incarceration term and the anticipated sexual violence. King doesn’t need to get “hard” so much as merely serious. The film exists in an alternate reality, where lots of guns are waved and no one gets shot, and where deadly situations pop up but result in barely a drop of spilt blood. King’s stupidity and failure to acknowledge his predicament is matched only by the insincerity with which the prison sentence and the true antagonists are approached. Most of the climax appears modeled after the attention to realism and plausibility of a Looney Tunes episode. There’s no suitable way to resolve such a comedic take on maximum-security imprisonment, though “Get Hard” sticks with its tone and lays the goofiness on as thick as possible.

– The Massie Twins

 



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