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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Get Hard 2015 * * Stars

Get HardDirector: Etan Cohen
Year: 2015
Rated R
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Alison Brie

What can I say, I'm a sucker for classless, offensive, and indecorous comedies. If the jokes are tight, the actors sell their lines, and the vehicle does whatever it can to generate a laugh, well it's worth it. 2015's Get Hard because of its Red Band trailer, enticed me to get on board. Yeah, the bulk of it (at just under a running time of three minutes) is pretty dicey. The actual movie, well that's a different story. In truth, "Hard" is a gregariously mild affair. It has very few laughs and vaguely routine performances from two overexposed movie stars (Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart). Sadly, it just doesn't get "hard" enough.

Speaking of its stars, I've been hearing all over social media that Hart and Ferrell have been relentlessly promoting their first flick together. Will Ferrell has even gone so far as to posing as third base coach for The Chicago Cubs (spring training style). The myth of said promotions says that they know the movie is bad, they know audiences won't like it but hey, it's crucial that they get people in the theater via the first week (so Warner Bros. studios and Gary Sanchez productions can possibly break even). After taking in a viewing of Get Hard at 1:30 yesterday, I can safely say that its cast and crew needed some form of due diligence.

Now some critics in question, have mentioned Get Hard in the same breath as Trading Places or one of those Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor capers from years past. I felt a slight comparison in this respect, but not enough to actually announce it. "Places" and See No Evil, Hear No Evil are intelligently written yuck fests with a certain plausibility to boot. Get Hard on the other hand, relies on gangbanger stereotypes, gay stereotypes, jokes about prison rape, and gags concerning oral sex (in prison) to get its point across. This is tired, recycled stuff from ear to ear. The humor doesn't really shock you and the lead actors try to sell it with annoying, impov overload.

First timer Etan Cohen not only directs, but also has a hand in writing the screenplay. You figured the same dude who penned the hilariously juicy Tropic Thunder would again strike gold. Negatory. It feels like the script here didn't have some sort of treatment and was hastily rushed to the actors right before production. Anyway, "Hard" begins its story by chronicling one James King (Will Ferrell). He's a rich dude and a successful hedge fund manager. He's also got a beautiful yet superficial wife and a righteous set of wheels. James has it in good with his future father-in-law, Martin Barrow (played by Craig T. Nelson in a one note performance. What was he thinking?). He's about to become partner in Martin's firm. But wait, Martin sets him up on charges that he ripped his clients off. James gets detained, sentenced to ten years in San Quentin State Prison, and loses his engagement to his ex-future (gold digger) wife. His solution: survive the big house with the help of the schlep that routinely washes his car. Enter Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart). James thinks because Darnell is black, he's done some serious time. Darnell can train James to handle life in the slammer and pocket $30,000 in the process (he needs the money to buy a house and move his family out of a bad neighborhood. King is willing to pay him this money). High jinks ensue when Hart's Darnell turns King's mansion into the actual, fearsome facility (famously known for harboring death row inmates). Over time, the two form a friendship and have an interesting way of working out in their simulated San Quentin (Ferrell lifts midget-sized Hart instead of using actual weights to bulk up. This seems funny on paper but on screen, it falls flat).

Here are some things that I liked about Get Hard: 1. Kevin Hart's Darnell reenacts a prison riot as part of King's training for hard time. It's complete with a strobe light and a freakish monkey. 2. there's an amusing cameo from singer John Mayer. He performs at a party held by Ferrell's King. Right before he sings his hit song "Daughters" he says, "ever see 100 women get wet at the same time?" That's so John Mayer. 3. Ferrell's character picks a fight with an old timer in a park (this is again part of his prison training). He gets the crud beat out of him while being told, "I was in Vietnam motherf**ker!"

Here are some things that had me scratching my head about Get Hard: 1. Ferrell's character wears an ankle bracelet during the thirty days before he has to get his affairs in order. He tries to leave the country by cutting said bracelet only to be arrested, thrown to the ground, and handcuffed. Cut to the next scene and he's back walking around L.A. Huh? He probably should have been put in the county jail or confined to his home before his decade-long term commences. 2. speaking of Ferrell's ankle bracelet, well it sure has one broad territory. After already being caught for trying to escape once, you're telling me that he can travel from his swanky pad in I guess, Beverly Hills to Crenshaw boulevard (and almost everywhere else) without setting it off? Yeah right. 3. Ferrell's character is innocent and he's going to jail based on something his future father-in-law did. But what exactly? Talk about a plot that is thin skinned. It's obvious that the people who worked on Get Hard didn't do the research needed to explain the aspects of fraud and embezzlement. Ferrell's King gets busted and gets the veritable Bernie Madoff treatment (along with going through the speediest trial ever captured on film). His key to freedom lies within data stored in a computer from the 1980's. Please. 4. the oral sex scene involving Ferrell's King and a guy in a bathroom stall is supposed to blur the lines of bad taste. However, it just doesn't come off as bold enough. For one thing, King doesn't go through with the act anyway and second, an 0.5 second snippet of frontal nudity is shown for effect. This is muted shock value at best.

In conclusion, you know what to expect when you see a movie starring Kevin Hart or Will Ferrell. They are from the "Vince Vaughn" school of acting by which they give the same darn performances over and over again. Their comedic styles differ somewhat with Will being the dimwitted bulb who's subjected to dumbing himself down and Kevin being the hyperactive fast talker with the skewed gift of gab. Heck, I figured that if you put them in a flick together, they'd be too bad for each other. They'd produce a fireball! Not so much here. It's more neutered than anything else. Therefore, I'm gonna go with a 2 star rating. Get Hard "hardly" earns my recommendation.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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