#REVIEW: “GET HARD”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Full admission right from the start – I am not a Fan of Kevin Hart’s Filmography and have found Will Ferrell’s especially of late, to be hit or miss. So pairing them together in this week’s Get Hard does sound amusing on paper, but also makes me immediately skeptical. The idea of a Millionaire Hedge Fund Manager (Ferrell) turning to a Criminal (Hart) to help prepare for his impending jail time sounds rather funny in theory (and immediately reminds me of the classic Dan Aykroyd/Eddie Murphy Comedy Trading Places), but could easily go horrifically wrong.
Low expectations are key to your enjoyment of Get Hard. There are some laugh-out-loud moments sprinkled casually throughout the Film’s 100-minute running time that really hit the mark. But the majority of the Film feels like a cruel and crude Experiment in poor taste, although those itching seeing it should know what exactly they are getting into. The Movie is filled with homophobic, racist and sexist undertones and jokes that the three credited Screenwriters (including director Etan Cohen, not to be mistaken for Oscar-winner Ethan Coen) which arguably could have been cut right out. Instead they replay the same jokes endlessly, becoming less effective each passing time. The plethora of Prison Rape jokes go from mildly amusing at first to irritating. Any fighting chance at smart satire falls flat all too often because it is so intent at choosing to be offensive.
But therein lies the problem with the Film. Aside from the initial set-up and ending, the rest of the Film feels like a Best-Of Compilation of Ferrell and Hart riffing and improvising. There seems to be no rhyme or real reason to most of the action, it just sort of happens at varying lengths and tones. If it were not for the Prison Countdown Timer that appears periodically throuhout the Film, I would have forgotten that there was a real Story forming.
While the content of the Film is questionable at best, Ferrell and Hart’s performances are not. They squeeze in every ounce of effort they can to really sell us on their Characters and their flaws, adding a whole layer of personality that is missing from the Dialogue. They are both better than this, but they wisely never act like they are above it. They just do their best with what they are given, easily outshining everything when they improvise.
The same praise cannot be given to the Supporting Cast, as the Film underutilizes every single one of them. It turns Actors like Craig T. Nelson and T.I. into perfunctory Pawns, moving the Film from point to point. Alison Brie fares even worse playing Ferrell’s one-dimensional Fiancée. One memorable scene has her in lingerie near the beginning of the Film, and then she is cut-out and almost forgotten entirely afterwards.
Get Hard is not nearly as bad as you might hear from others, but it is far from terrific. It is refreshing to see Ferrell in such an audacious display, and just as great to see Hart continuing to embrace his foul-mouthed routes. But the Film is a mess of tones from the start, and it never has a clear focus. This could have been a memorable first pairing for the Duo, but instead will be remembered for its flagrant offensiveness.
Warner Bros. Pictures Canada release GET HARD Friday, March 27, 2015.