“A hopelessly dirty and incompetently racist film”

by Steve Pulaski

Etan Cohen’s Get Hard is an absolutely abysmal comedy for more reasons than it takes the worst attributes of both its lead performers and tries to make a ninety-four minute film rely on them. The film makes the classic mistake of assuming that all it takes to be funny is to be mindlessly vulgar and have several sight gags masquerading as comedy, forgoing any semblance of wit and subtly in order to be as brazen as possible. When Will Ferrell’s straight-laced character was reading off numerous insults he concocted himself, and one of them was “I will punch you right in the f***,” I knew what kind of comedy was on my hands, and I wanted to wash them thoroughly with soap and water.

This is a hopelessly dirty and incompetently racist film, but it’s far too stupid and narrow-minded to be seen as truly offensive. Admittedly, however, to see a film like this get made in 2015, in a time where political correctness runs rampant, is very surprising, but nonetheless, to be offended by Get Hard gives the film too much credit. It implies that a strong reaction was prompted during the film where the film doesn’t deserve such. It deserves to be dismissed and quietly swept away to late night TV on Comedy Central where its only audience will be insomniacs and very curious cinephiles. With the ample amount of Judd Apatow comedies that have proven they can be raunchy and heartfelt, there’s no place for a film like Get Hard and its breathless attempts to be funny.

Get Hard
Directed by
Etan Cohen
Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Alison Brie
Release Date
27 March 2015
Steve’s Grade: F

The film concerns James King (Will Ferrell), a wealthy hedge-fund manager who is engaged to a gold-digging woman and working for his father’s company. He has an enormous house and is constantly reminded of how important it is to go after one’s goals by his manipulative wife who sees nothing but untold dollar signs in him. During his birthday party, James is indicted on several counts of embezzlement and is given a month leeway before he’s sentenced to ten years in a maximum security prison (this part makes “Get Hard” kind of a fantasy film, but I digress).

In order to find out how to survive in prison, James seeks out the first black man he sees, a man named Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart), who works in a car wash at James’ office. Despite Darnell never having been to prison, he sees James’ racial profiling and stupidity as pitiful traits and agrees to help him for $30,000. Darnell concocts a rigorous prison training course, complete with weight-lifting, prison riots, “kiestering,” and gay sex in order to make James “hard” (aka ready for prison).

As expected, Get Hard descends into the “maximum antics, minimum laughter” realm of comedy fairly quickly. Jokes and sight gags are fired constantly, but all of which burdened by imbedded stereotypes, shallow writing, mundane vulgarity, or a combination of the three. During these scenes, Ferrell plays bumbling and clueless and Hart plays frantic and loud, effectively minimizing each of their talents to conform to the bottom-barrel screenplay at hand. The sole merit of the film is how it appears to evoke the tired idea perpetuated by the wealthy that all the poor or the working class need to do is pull themselves up by their bootstraps and they too can be as successful as they are. This scene is demonstrated pretty effectively during the first time James and Darnell interact (Darnell taps on James’ window to get his attention and James thinks he’s being robbed), but the film quickly forgoes that element of social satire in order to maximize its time for desperately unfunny humor.

By now, you know if you want to see Get Hard or not, and if you do, that’s your own prerogative. This is another one of those films so tailor-made for the lowest common denominator where, much like most Happy Madison films, those who made the film have a lower impression of those who will see the film than you ever could of the film. When you see Get Hard, just know that it and its creators stoop to a level of condescending none of us can begin to understand.