Review – Get Hard

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Stars: Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart
Director: Etan Cohen (no, not Ethan Coen. Definitely not him)
Certificate: 15 (constant, unending sex references)
Running Time: 100 mins
Release Date: 27th March 2015

I’ve made peace with the fact that, as someone who writes a lot of film reviews, I’m going to watch some seriously crap films from time to time. There was a time that I used to dread the wasted hours and the hollow feeling inside that accompanied the watching of a proper stinker, but no more. Any time I find myself in a cinema about to watch something that has been universally derided as unfunny, offensive, or a shocking waste of talent from everyone involved, I comfort myself with a simple mantra. “It can’t be as unfunny as Unfinished Business,” I tell myself, breathing in through the nostrils. “It can’t be as offensive as Transformers 4.” Slowly exhale through the mouth. “It can’t be as shocking a waste of talent from everyone involved as everything Johnny Depp has done in the past decade,” repeat while making a gentle “ommm” noise until the doubting voices are silenced

I’ve just watched Get Hard. I’m going to need a bigger mantra

Will Ferrell plays James King, a well-off sub-Burgundian cartoon character who finds himself facing serious jail time for securities fraud. With thirty days to get his affairs on order, he turns to his black valet Darnell (Kevin Hart, widely acclaimed as the new Chris Rock but here very much the new Chris Tucker) to teach him how to survive inside. Now, Darnell doesn’t have a criminal bone in his body, but that doesn’t stop him from sensing an opportunity to make a quick buck out of the naive and massively racist King. So begins an hour-long montage of picking fights with strangers in parks, prison trash talk torn straight from a “replace part of a popular idiom with ‘fuck'” hashtag game, and countless jokes on the topic of prison rape which treat the subject exactly as sensitively as you would expect from a film whose title is basically “ERECTIONS! ERECTIONS ARE HILARIOUS!!!”

I’m not naturally averse to Will Ferrell. Anchorman remains an enduring guilty pleasure of mine, with Ron Burgundy’s old-school sexist schtick working so well because (a) it’s the 70s, and (b) there’s a strong female character opposite him to call it out and highlight the buffoonery (note: does not apply to the sequel). Get Hard is clearly aiming for something similar, with Ferrell’s character ascending to ludicrous heights of racism and homophobia, but the rest of the film just kind of nods along with it. King could have just about worked as an oblivious, cretinous anti-hero, but here he’s treated as a man with legitimate concerns about the prison system. The whole film could have worked if it was clever enough to actually subvert some of the stereotypes that it plays upon, rather than just meekly pointing at them and expecting an audience to laugh

Naturally there will be some people who go out of their way to not be offended by Get Hard, perhaps going so far as to deploy the ‘banter’ defence as a way of neutering completely legitimate criticism. To them, I offer this as a riposte – it’s ostensibly a comedy film, yet the best joke is delivered by John Mayer. The musician and noted non-comedian John Mayer. Everyone involved in the production deserves a ten year stretch in San Quentin just for that

Our Verdict: 2/10


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