It’s difficult to pinpoint who should be most offended by “Get Hard”. Should it be white people, a group that this movie seems to think includes nothing but rich racists? Or should it be black people? For example, in “Get Hard”, a black man says “Murder is my favorite”. This is meant to be a joke.
It turns out that most audiences that see “Get Hard” will be offended because aside from some moments only saved out of pure desperation by stars Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, this is some of the most wretched, ill-timed satire in recent movie history.
Ferrell plays James King, a man so affluent that he hardly notices his 100% Hispanic housekeepers (add another group of people to the list of offended) as he stretches while nude at a glass patio door in his Beverly Hills palace. His fiancé, Alissa (Alison Brie), is one of the most obvious gold diggers in movie history and is at least a decade younger than James, only adding to the uncomfortableness.
When “Get Hard” introduces Hart’s Darnell, the movie almost has promise. Darnell has a wife and daughter that he desperately wants to move out of Crenshaw and he needs $30,000 for a down payment on a house. He owns a small car wash business that operates out of the parking garage in James’ office building.
In those first few fleeting moments, “Get Hard” creates a real character with real problems and Hart is fully entertaining.
After James is wrongly arrested for stealing millions of dollars, the movie falls to pieces. James panics about going to San Quentin and because he is racially and socially inept, he assumes Darnell has been to prison and enlists him to learn how to survive on the inside. Darnell hasn’t so much as gotten a traffic ticket so he uses every stereotype imaginable during his “How to Prison for Dummies” crash course.
“Get Hard” seems to think that prison rape jokes are a great way to score laughs. This movie bombards you with them. Initially, it’s funny, but once Darnell takes James to a popular gay brunch spot, it immediately ceases to be. This is the type of movie that is actually comparing homosexuality to prison rape and the fact that people seemed to be laughing at it is fully disturbing.
If that’s not enough, Darnell decides to see if he can get the Crenshaw Kings gang to protect James in prison. He takes James to see his cousin Russell (T.I.) and his home is brimming with gun-toting black men and black women drinking and smoking while twerking at seemingly all hours of the day.
Even those most averse to political correctness will be cringing. It’s as if screenwriters Jay Martel, Ian Roberts, and Etan Cohen had some sort of racially repugnant checklist and needed to include everything on it.
This is Cohen’s directorial debut and, other than a clever and witty faux prison riot sequence, he seems to have told his cinematographer to set the camera down so that the camera work bores you almost as much as his writing.
It’s difficult to tell which one of Will Ferrell’s movies in the last ten years is the most embarrassing, but this one surely is in the running. There’s really no point in giving the characters he portrays a name as it’s simply Will Ferrell as Will Ferrell, awkward, dumb, and oblivious to anything remotely close to reality.
Ferrell is, at best, a good comedic character actor, with Ron Burgundy being the most obvious example. In “Get Hard”, he’s nothing more than an irritation, a Harvard-educated buffoon who seems to have made millions of dollars despite his stupidity. Sadly, that description is strikingly similar to Ferrell’s recent career choices.
Kevin Hart desperately tries to make this movie work, but he’s left with table scraps amounting to rolling his eyes at Ferrell’s idiocy or shrieking like a small child. His funniest moments are understated, such as the snark infused reply of “I’ll tell the others” when Ferrell tells him he’s not trying to steal black culture.
There’s definitely room for Kevin Hart’s charm in comedies, but “Get Hard” is not it.
The King of All Satires, “Blazing Saddles”, works because it is set in a surreal world, ranging from the old west to suddenly ending on the modern streets of Los Angeles. That oddity seemingly makes it okay to skewer every race, nationality, and religion on Earth because it doesn’t feel like the real world.
“Get Hard” wants to satirize today’s racial and financial issues. The problem is that everyone involved with this movie isn’t smart enough to do it without offending the very people it’s trying to reach.
In stores on Blu-ray/DVD Tuesday, June 30.