Like a small child with a set of steak knives, ‘Get Hard’ wields sharp ideas gleefully without inspiring confidence. It’s a please-don’t-let-me-get-raped-in-prison comedy starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, and comes with a tongue-in-cheek layer of race gags, wide-eyed sexism and plenty of sweaty gay panic. Miraculously, it doesn’t feel mean-spirited so much as deeply awkward. It’s daring and foolhardy.
Luckily the kids wielding the steak knives are gloriously good at playing dumb. Ferrell is better than he has been in ages as James King, a strutting, superwealthy stock trader about to marry his boss’s spoiled daughter (Alison Brie). When embezzlement charges rain down on him, he toys with fleeing to Mexico in a fake moustache. Then he pleads with his longtime car washer, Darnell (Hart, terrific), whom he assumes has spent time behind bars (the guy is actually a married, wine-sipping striver), to make him a mad dog.
If the above makes you cringe, that’s the point. Certainly the movie is too glib with stereotypes, but only the humourless will frown at Ferrell’s effortless way with white-guy entitlement. ‘I’m going to be attending San Quentin,’ this Harvard graduate sniffs, almost as a point of pride. Later, after tasting thug life, he calls it an ‘ambrosia of primal sensations’. The dude is trying – which is the best you can say about ‘Get Hard’, a film with its heart in the right place, if not any other body part.
Cast and crew