Movie review: "Get Hard" gets cheap laughs from stereotypes

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart comedy “Get Hard” is pretty likely to be a crowd-pleaser for anyone who is excited by the idea of a Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart comedy. If you want to see it, you can probably put down this review and go see it.

Still reading? Well, Will Ferrell has been in desperate need of a return to comedic form, and Kevin Hart’s popularity has always been something of a mystery to me. I was hoping for a silly romp that maybe, just maybe could say something thoughtful about race in American. I was hoping for too much.

James King (Ferrell) is a millionaire investor who gets busted for fraud and sentenced to San Quentin — because that actually happens, right? Darnell Lewis (Hart) is the owner of the business that washes James’ car — because obviously?

Fearful of his ability to survive prison, James hires Darnell to prepare him — because he assumes that, statistically speaking, a black man in America has obviously been to prison. Hilarity ensues.

Before I get accused of being the “PC police” — I hate that term, by the way — let’s say this. Yeah, the premise of “Get Hard” is inherently racist in that it’s-OK-if-we-know-it’s-racist way. They set up Darnell as a family man who is playing into James’ stereotypes … so they can get laughs from racial stereotypes.

Also, let’s pretend prison rape jokes are funny (they’re not) and cheap homophobia jokes are funny (also not). Even with all those concessions? “Get Hard” still isn’t that funny.

Director Etan Cohen and his two screenwriting partners — let’s just note, all white — try to set up a premise where the stereotypes are fair game for comedy, and there’s a strong element of class difference to boot. If they were going for “Trading Places,” they failed.

That said, if you still find Will Ferrell doing his low-grade man-child act to be hilarious or if you can’t get enough of Hart’s manic nerd energy, that’s where the few laughs come from. Most of the laughs being of the cheap, faux-shocking variety.

Best moment: When Hart tells a made-up back story that is obviously the plot to a famous gang-banging movie (a moment deflated later when it announces the obvious).

Most ironic moment: A movie stuffed with appropriation of black culture that kicks off with an Iggy Azalea song.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

"Get Hard"

Opens Friday

1 1/2 stars out of 4