Starring: Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Alison Brie
After being convicted of fraud and sentenced to 10 years in one of the toughest maximum security prisons, millionaire hedge fund manager and all-round wimp James King (Ferrell) is scared of what will happen to him when inside, and so employs the man who washes his car (Hart) to teach him to ‘get hard’ so he can survive in prison.
To describe a film as pure evil does admittedly sound a tad dramatic, but everything about Get Hard is just nasty and horrible, especially the apparent ideologies that form the basis of the film’s so-called humour. The basis of the film’s jokes and visual gags are predominantly extremely racist stereotypes, often presented in the improvised over-the-top way that has been Will Ferrell’s trademark style. Now, these initial deeply racist stereotypes could form the basis of a potentially interesting and good film if dealt with in a well-researched and intelligent way that challenges the viewer and provides subtle, observational humour (Four Lions is an example that immediately comes to mind).
However, Get Hard is unsurprisingly not that film, and it depresses me to say that, but I do so with hardly any surprise; Get Hard is a film based on such narrow minded and nasty ideologies that the extent of this nastiness made me feel that even when just sitting down to watch it I felt like a bad person. It is a horrible, nasty and vile film, and all involved in the making of it should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
This is a shame, as unlike many I actually quite enjoy Will Ferrell’s films, despite the fact he can only really play one kind of character. However the humour in Get Hard delves deep into the depths far below lowest common denominator that almost makes you lose faith in comedy as a film genre. Most of the verbal or visual gags are just beyond indolent; either based on lazy and racist stereotypes, swearing for the sake of it or Will Ferrell improvising and producing what is essentially verbal diarrhoea.
Not only are the jokes vile, but the entire narrative is presented with laziness that is beyond belief by writer/director Etan Cohen and his co-writers Jay Martel and Ian Roberts. Obviously the fact that James is going to prison and needs to ‘get hard’ is the main plot, but an inevitable shift in focus so that the final third focusses primarily on why he is going to prison is presented with total incompetence. We are apparently supposed to not only care, but feel a genuine sense of danger in these scenes, but all the hideous nastiness of what has preceded it makes it impossible to care about what happens to anyone and just want the whole thing to be over.
It is hard to criticise the performances too much, though the inevitably endless outtakes suggest that Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart had good fun making the film, they do of course just play the same roles they always do. The fact is that is that anyone who does like these actors will not like anything they do, and so not like Get Hard. However, even to say that almost feels like a thoroughly undeserved defence of this hideous film. Ultimately, the heaviest criticism that should be aimed at them is the fact that if they do not feel deeply ashamed for being in this film and saying some of the dialogue that they did. For this they are as morally bankrupt as those that made it. However I am sure they were paid more than enough to be in this film, so feel perfectly fine about the whole thing.
Ultimately, career best performances could have not made any of the film’s characters engaging due to the fact that the concept and script of Get Hard is written with pure cynicism, vile nastiness and no care whatsoever for narrative competence. This is a film that is ideologically and creatively rotten to its very core and just demonstrates the extremely dire and depressingly low standards of mainstream comedy at the present time.
An actor paring and concept that could have potentially produced a good film, but instead the result is something beyond nasty; Get Hard is a film that contains hideous ideologies at its core and must be avoided by anyone with taste, or indeed morals.