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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Get Hard (Blu-ray)
Get Hard (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. // Unrated // June 30, 2015 // Region Free
List Price: $44.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted June 27, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
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R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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Wait for it...wait for it...

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Get Hard!

Okay, okay, the dick pun's out of the way, so now we can go ahead and get down to brass tacks. Mega-millionaire financial tycoon James King (Will Ferrell) meets up with Darnell (Kevin Hart) in a parking garage, offering the little man thirty grand to get him hard. It makes sense! On the hook for money laundering and securities fraud, James is staring down the barrel of ten years in prison. Since Darnell is black and knows that San Quentin is a thing that exists, clearly the guy's gotta be an ex-con, right? James only has a few weeks of something resembling freedom left, and the guy's nothing but creamy nougat center. He's desperate for someone to toughen him up so he can take care of himself on the inside. Darnell isn't exactly the man for the job; he's never had so much as a parking ticket, let alone spent any time in the clink, but...sshh! Don't tell James. That $30K is the downpayment this middle-class, stand-up guy needs to get a proper home for his family and his darling daughter in the right school district. So, Darnell puffs up his chest and bullshits his way through Maximum Security 101, transforming James' palatial estate into a miniature prison while he's at it.

There are two unrecognizably different reviews I could be hammering out right now. Overanalytical Armchair Film Critic looks at Get Hard's premise as pointing the way towards some potentially brilliant social satire: wealth inequality, racial prejudices, and even the way Darnell looks at his own "blackness". There's some of that sprinkled in here, yeah, but Get Hard is more fascinated by Darnell tormenting his dopey student with a Let's-Get-Ready-for-Prison gauntlet: everything from weight lifting to cramming contraband up your butt to fighting random guys on the street to blowing a dude in a bathroom. You could make the argument that Get Hard dulls its fangs by having James be completely innocent of everything he's been convicted of doing. I mean, the movie even opens with James living in the lap of luxury but being completely content with what he has rather than the more-for-the-sake-of-fuck-you-gimme-more mentality you usually associate with those predatory Bernie Madoff types. When it premiered at SXSW, Get Hard was met with a hell of a lot of blowback about the way it showcases black and gay stereotypes. I mean, James doesn't want to be shivved either, but a lot of the premise does hinge on the fear of "wait, the other prisoners want to put their penises where now...?!". The way that Darnell sneers that gay men pretty much indiscriminately blow each other at any available opportunity (or, well, at a "flirty" brunch spot anyway) isn't exactly enlightened, and he's pretty much the only black character with any dialogue who isn't in a gang, isn't guzzling malt liquor, and isn't watching girls twerk or whatever.

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Even looking at Get Hard from the perspective of Just a Guy Who Likes Comedies, I'm not blind to its flaws either. Community and Mad Men are just two examples of how Alison Brie has showcased her talents as a dramatic actress and a comedienne, but she's underutilized here as little more than overentitled, bitchy eye candy. Several sequences feel like director/co-writer Etan Cohen had some rough goals in mind but wasn't really sure where to go with them. Darnell convinces James to pick up a guy at an ice cream parlor and blow him in the bathroom, which...okay, strains credibility but whatever. The scene is nothing but James laughlessly trying to psyche himself up to put a dick in his mouth, just biding its time to build up to the shock reveal of a penis on-screen. If you're not astonished at the sight of a wiener -- and I'm a dude, so I'm forced to look at one several times a day, every day -- that whole routine is comedic dead air and untapped potential. There's a somewhat lackluster sequence with James trying to get in the good graces of a white supremacy gang so he'll have some protection on the inside. It's not pointless -- James can't bring himself to say anything racist or hateful even when his life depends on it, Darnell gets to play the hero, and, well, it's an excuse for a big action scene -- but again, it feels like there's so much room for funny here and that the movie's barely trying to find it. The mechanics of the plot, especially once the climax rolls around, feel awfully routine as well.

Dammit, though, Just a Guy Who Likes Comedies laughed a lot anyway. Get Hard doesn't exactly push Kevin Hart or Will Ferrell out of their comfort zones, but that also means that they're right at home with this sort of material, and the two of them make for a hell of a comedy team. It's not about black/white or wee/tall; Hart and Ferrell just play off each other exceptionally well. When it comes to this sort of movie, laughs trump all other sins. I'm not saying that Get Hard is one for the ages. Part of me is bristling enough at the way the movie superficially skewers a handful of stereotypes while reveling in many more while that I feel kind of guilty recommending it. I don't know. When I'm reviewing a comedy, it all comes down to "but did I laugh?" The answer is "yes, and a lot too!", and that means I'm about to type "Recommended" in bold and italics. Ready? Here it comes! Recommended.

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This Blu-ray releases showcases both the R-rated theatrical version of Get Hard and a new unrated cut that runs around seven minutes longer. Because I'm dedicated and pretty much all-around amazing, I dug through both cuts to try to dig out the differences.
  1. James gulps down a glass of nice, refreshing, post-capoeira water, telling his gardeners how he -- and okay, they -- can all be proud of the day of work they've put in
  2. There's more of James and Alissa in bed, justing waiting for you to post some more Alison Brie GIFs on Tumblr
  3. There's an extended version of James' financial advice in the garage and the leadup to the John Mayer performance (who would've guessed that Mayer is this funny, by the way?)
  4. The blowback after James is initially busted is a little longer
  5. Thrill to more of James and Darnell's "get hard" agreement in the garage
  6. John Mayer's song about James on The Tonight Show has been extended
  7. There's a bit more of the, um, prison yard foursome
  8. Exclusive to the unrated cut is a "prison" escape
  9. The blowjob punchline is...well, I don't want to say "longer", but you get the idea
  10. More of James practicing his trash talk
  11. The gangbangers give James more of a hard time while he's plunking away on his laptop
  12. James distills a sliver more IRA advice over a forty
  13. There's a callback to how you can't let punks fuck wit'cher food
  14. The one you've been waiting for: different end credits (nothing noteworthy, though)

Video
C'mon, it's a big-budget studio comedy fresh out of theaters; of course Get Hard looks phenomenal in high-def. Culled from its 2K digital intermediate, this presentation is superhumanly sharp and overflowing with detail. For a straightahead 2D disc, there's plenty of depth and dimensionality on display here, and its palette is often bright and vivid enough to pop off the screen too.

In case you missed it a little further up, Get Hard piles on two different versions of the flick: the R-rated cut that made the rounds in theaters and a new unrated version that clocks in around seven minutes longer. Rather than heap on separate, feature-length encodes, the disc uses seamless branching to weave between these two cuts. Haven't seen that in a while for sure. It's an approach that helps to keep the bitrate stratospherically high, and there's not the faintest sputter or stutter in this flawless AVC encode.

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Get Hard arrives on a dual-layer Blu-ray disc at its native aspect ratio of 1.78:1.


Audio
As you probably could've guessed if you're into these sorts of technical details, both cuts of Get Hard are backed by 24-bit, six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio. The onslaught of hip-hop and club-pop keeps the subwoofer snarling, most memorably the pounding bass during the faux-prison riot and that whole thing with Nicki Minaj' "Beez in the Trap". The lower frequencies also rattle the room throughout the couple of standout action sequences: the impromptu raid on that white supremacy compound and, it kinda goes without saying, the climax. Those more heavily action-centric bits also most aggressively take advantage of the surrounds, and I especially love the way that effects ping-pong from channel to channel throughout the not-really-a-riot. Every last element in the fray is clean, clear, and distinct, and Get Hard's dialogue is balanced masterfully, not marred by so much as a flicker of clipping or distortion. 'Severy bit as well done as you'd expect.

The theatrical cut of Get Hard also has a descriptive audio track as well as dubs in French and Latino Spanish riding shotgun. There aren't any alternate soundtracks on the unrated version, though. Both cuts do feature subtitle streams in English (SDH), French, Spanish, and...I don't know, I think that's Japanese? You'd think I'd know what that symbol means by now.


Extras
Get Hard gets the whole combo pack treatment, so you're treated to an anamorphic widescreen DVD and an UltraViolet digital copy code as part of the deal too. For what it's worth, the Blu-ray disc features both the theatrical and unrated cuts of the movie, while the DVD and streaming options are R-rated only.
  • Deleted Scenes (25 min.; HD): Okay, maybe the menu calls 'em "deleted scenes", but these eight chunks of footage are almost entirely extensions of what already got you hard. The closest this reel comes to something completely new is James' coffee shop table recreation of Tupac's final moments. The standout here is a deliriously over-the-top take on James' "keistering", which is so cartoonishly out of step with everything else that it kind of had to get yanked out but made me laugh like hell anyway. A lot of this stuff is Line-O-Rama-esque machine gun improvs that would've had to be trimmed down regardless, and some of them get really tedious, really quickly. Never would've guessed I'd want to fast forward through Alison Brie in lingerie and straddling a guy, but there you go.

  • Line-O-Rama (9 min.; HD): Thrill to rapid fire barrages of improvised gags: James' fuck-peppered tirade in the garage, more of Massive Head Wound Harry on his way to the nurse, and a lengthier crying montage that gives Alison Brie a little more screentime. Far and away the highlight is a greatly extended version of Darnell being picked up by that hyperconfident guy at the ice cream parlor (T.J. Jagodowski).

  • Gag Reel (3 min.; HD): You know the drill: lots of cracking up and fumbling with props and all that.

  • Like, Nine Other Things (30 min.; HD): Lightning round!

    "Just Put Your Lips Together and Blow" (4 min.) is basically a Line-O-Rama/outtakes/behind-the-scenes mashup of James bringing himself to blow a guy in a bathroom, while "Will Ferrell: Gangsta" (2 min.) does the same with James' hip-hop transformation. Without the oral sex, I mean.

    "Bikers, Babes, and Big Bangs" (3 min.) takes a peek behind the curtain of Get Hard's most incendiary action sequence, including a double-D windshield stunt. Kind of along those lines, Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell get their own stunt/fighting/workout-type featurettes, with each clocking in around three minutes a pop. Ferrell's is of more interest since there are additional improvs and stuff lurking in there, while Hart's is more traditionally behind-the-scenes-ish.

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    "A Date with John Mayer" (2 min.) showcases a bunch of footage of Ferrell and Mayer quipping on and off the set, and the highlight has gotta be Ferrell doing his take on his co-star's lemon-puckered guitar faces.

    Clocking in a little over a minute in length, "Twerking 101" is half an instructional lesson, half critique. I'll let you guess which side of that equation Craig T. Nelson falls under.

    Every disc like this needs a straightahead making-of featurette, and that's exactly what "Inmates: Out of Control" (6 min.) delivers: Etan Cohen plopping down in the director's chair for the first time, the comedic competition on-set between Hart and Ferrell, just how much of the supporting cast is playing against type, and, yeah, a whole gaggle of outtakes and cast-off improvs.

    Last up is "Face Off with Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart", which has the actors interviewing each other for five and a half minutes about everything from what they like to splurge on to the art of the high five.

    The laughs are a little more sparse throughout all these featurettes than I would've hoped for, but...eh, they're all still worth a look.

Oh, and Get Hard comes packaged with a slipcover if you're into that sort of thing. If not, you could always chuck it in the garbage, I guess.


The Final Word
Reviews for Get Hard have skewed intensely negative, and...yeah, I can see that, especially if you're more interested in the satirical skewering of wealth inequality and racial prejudices its earliest moments hint at and are not so enthralled by even more gags about prison rape. It's kind of crazy digging through the extras and seeing a couple of sequences with more off-the-charts brilliant one-liners than Get Hard would ever be able to use, while others, like the bathroom blowjob bit and the raid on the white supremacist compound, can't manage to stick the landing so much. Okay, so it's uneven, and the punchlines don't always live up to the setups, but the list of comedies you could say that about stretches on for miles. At the end of the day, I had a blast with Get Hard. Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart are a hell of a comedy team, and when the movie cracked me up -- which happened kind of a lot -- I laughed louder and harder than I have at anything I've seen in a long, long time. I know I'm way in the minority here, and I'm not blind to Get Hard's many flaws, but...whatever. It's my review, and I say Recommended anyway.
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