By Gary Murray
Starring Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Alison Brie and Craig T. Nelson
Written by Jay Martel, Ian Roberts and Etan Cohen
Directed by Etan Cohen
Running time 100 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating Forget it!
Get Hard can refer to being ready for what is inevitably going to happen such as getting ready for the hard journey of going to prison. Get Hard could also refer to the male genitalia when getting ready to have sex. The makers of the new film Get Hard have taken the second track in what could be the crudest film of this young year.
The story is of two men on crossing paths. James is an investment guru who makes millions for his company. He is about to marry the daughter (Alison Brie) of the boss (Craig T. Nelson). His life is perfect in every aspect.
Darrell (Kevin Hart) is part of the struggling masses. He is a hard working guy who just wants to make enough money to get out of his gang infested neighborhood and into a better area for his young daughter and wife. He has a strong work ethic but is $30,000 short.
Fortunes change for James very quickly. He is accused of milking his investors for millions. He proclaims his innocence all the way to trial, where he refuses the plea bargain. James is eventually sentenced to 10 years in San Quentin. He has 30 days before he must report to jail.
James hires Darnell to make him hard for prison life. He assumes that Darnell is an ex-con. Darnell has a clean record but believes he can convince James that he knows the thug life. He keeps warning James that prison is full of gay sex and that James will be pounded to death. Darnell turns James’ beautiful home into a mock prison and all the servants are guards.
In one scene, Darnell decides that the only way James will survive in prison is to learn to please male gang members. They go to the gayest bar in LA where Darnell tells James he must ‘perform’ the deed. Yes, there is exposed maleness and it is very graphic. This is not a film for those who are easily offended.
The vile comedy is full of penis jokes and prison rape jokes. 75% of the film is just the most tasteless display of juvenile filth put on the screen in a long time. There is a big difference between being cleaver and just being dirty. In the other 25%, there is some genuine humor. The simulation prison riot in James’ giant LA house is a cleaver little bit of insanity and the aftermath to the hospital is one of the few parts that can be shown on television.
The interesting aspect of the film is that as much as one hates the material, one loves the performances. Kevin Hart has this manic, magic charm when delivering the most foul of lines. He’s almost like the bad little kid in elementary school. There is a reason he seems to be in every comedy in the last year. He just delivers the funny.
Kevin works well with Will Ferrell, a performer who usually takes over every scene he is in. 9 times out of 10 Ferrell hams his way through the screenplay, never playing off the other performers but just doing his solo shtick. Here, he actually works with Kevin Hart in trying to make comedy with another.
Another plus is the small role of Alison Brie. The Community actress is breaking into more mainstream comedy roles and is showing a definite knack with light-hearted material. And, she’s very easy on the eyes.
The film is directed and co-written by Etan Cohen. He is the writer of the brilliant Tropic Thunder but he is also the writer of Men In Black 3. Here, he has all the elements and fails to put them together in a pleasing order. In what could have been a cleaver examination of foreboding inevitability, he takes the path of ease and makes 100 minutes of penis and rape jokes. It is a waste of time and talent.
With two big stars, Get Hard is basically critic proof. No matter what kind of warning any critic gives, the film will make millions from the unwashed masses, yearning to laugh. The problem is that it is cheap, dirty laughs that one feel guilty for experiencing. In the end, Get Hard is a sad occurrence.