Review: Get Hard

I can’t say I’m easily offended. As someone who enjoys intelligent bad taste and counts John Waters as a cinematic hero, it takes a lot to offend my sensibilities. I’ve seen a lot of fellow writers dub Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart’s first collaboration Get Hard as offensive – and it is – particularly as the material is so pathetically weak.

This one-hundred minute relentless tirade of black jokes, prison-rape gags, and gay-bashing follows millionaire James King (Ferrell) as he’s framed for fraud and sentenced to ten years in San Quentin. With thirty days before his sentence commences King teams-up with his car-washer Darnell (Hart) in order to help him toughen up and avoid being raped in prison.

It’s staggering to see that three writers – including director Etan Cohen – were involved in writing the screenplay to Get Hard. That surely means that at least three people found these limp attempts at gags humorous – which is an utter mystery to this reviewer. When the basis of your narrative is a character training to avoid prison rape, you know the material is going to wear thin fast – yet that does stop the film’s writers relentlessly firing out lazy, uninspired, and just plain stupid jokes e.g. Kevin Hart’s motor-mouthed carwash attendant screeching lines like “San Quentin? It should be called San Fucking.” It’s not funny, it’s just dim-witted trash.

There’s a deep routed homophobia lingering within many of these gags – which is both offensive to those who like good comedy and to the gay community. A scene where Ferrell’s King goes to a local gay pick-up joint so he can learn how to give a blowjob is embarrassingly weak – whilst bolstering outdated stereotypes of the gay community. These cringe-worthy stereotypes continue into the film’s African-American characters – encapsulated in a Lil’ Wayne tribute scene and the plethora of gangster types on display throughout the proceedings.

Whilst the cast can’t be blamed for the weak material, I can’t help but feel that the writers are playing up to Ferrell’s usual cinematic persona: overloud, hysterical, stupid yet sensitive – and this adds a further dull familiarity to Get Hard. Hart is surprisingly the more entertaining of the pair – in the sense that losing a toe is better than losing a foot. Alison Brie’s supporting turn is wasted, with lines so flat that the actress can literally do nothing to improve the situation.

With staggeringly poor material, and a concept that is worn out by the first act, Get Hard is a loathsome experience with zero laughs.

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