Director: Etan Cohen
Starring: Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Craig T. Nelson
Well I laughed, though often against my better moral judgement. And when it comes down to it, wasn't laughter the sole purpose of this film? Will Ferrell is nothing more than a comedian, though he has attempted a bit of drama a few times. Since his SNL days, Ferrell has succeeded when he's made us laugh, often by making a fool out of himself. Zoolander, Old School, Elf, Anchorman, Wedding Crashers, Talladega Nights; these were all hits, at least in the comedy world, produced numerous quotable lines, and contained some of the most uniquely funny cinematic moments you're likely to see. He followed those films up with Blades of Glory, Semi-Pro, Step Brothers, Land of the Lost, The Other Guys, Casa de mi Padre, The Campaign; movies that mostly bombed. So, would Get Hard be a return to Ferrell's proven side-splitting talent or just another in a recent line of duds? Well, like I said, I laughed, which is at least something.
James King has the perfect life. He's an extremely wealthy broker, just made partner at his firm, lives in a mansion, and is engaged to his boss' daughter, who happens to be incredibly hot. But when millions come up missing, James is declared the culprit, even though he has no idea what happened. To teach a lesson to white-collar criminals, the judge convicts & sentences James to the maximum penalty allowed by law; ten years in San Quentin, hard time. He has 30 days to get his affairs in order and, with the help of Darnell, to prepare himself for prison. James wrongly assumes that Darnell, the black man who washes his car, was a convict, and so hires him to begin prison preparedness training. The pair will have to work together to teach James to survive jail, while also attempting to figure out just where all that money went and who's behind the actual crime.
Was it funny? Of course it was. That is, if you enjoy Will Ferrell's ass and the idea of objects being hidden inside it. Still there? Well then this movie is for you. It's one giant over-the-top goofball of a comedy, a relentless barrage of bodily humor, prat falls, fake martial arts, and grown men crying. And that you might have been ready for, but Get Hard doesn't stop there. It takes a turn for the wrong with almost every joke. Prison rape, homosexual blowjobs, sphincters, racist jokes, gang warfare, Latino housestaff, neo-nazis; there really isn't a subject that feels OK to laugh at, but you laugh anyway. And that's where they get you I guess, they make you laugh in spite of your knowledge that you shouldn't. Call it comedic genius or a simple bludgeoning of our good taste, but in the end we laugh, which was the goal all along.
I liked Will Ferrell in this role and I felt like he was finally not trying too hard. He's a funny guy, plain & simple, and when he can bring a little of himself to a character that's when we love him. James King was likeable despite his flaws, normal after you put aside the money, and so it worked. Kevin Hart also worked, which I'm sure is not a surprise to a lot of people. I don't know his work very well, but I know he's popular, and I can see why. He's naturally funny too, as well as being physically perfect for this part; a small black man with a high-pitched voice standing next to a giant Irish guy with a pink complexion. For Etan Cohen's first attempt at directing, it could have gone much worse. I assume he let the lead actors take charge, let their humor slide out organically, and sat back enjoying the ride. Get Hard isn't the greatest comedy of the last few years, but it's nice to see Will Ferrell do well, Kevin Hart made a good impression on me, and, hey, I laughed.