Get Hard (2015)

(Video on Demand, July 2015) There is something almost irresistibly promising about the premise at the core of Get Hard: What if a privileged naïf, framed for white-collar crime, had to ask for help in facing being locked-up?  What if the tough-black-guy asked for help was just as innocent as the convicted man?  Give the two main roles to Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart and you can almost imagine the film itself.  There’s even some room for social commentary, populist rage and racial-divide commentary.  But what do we actually get in Get Hard?  Alas: Racist, homophobic and just plain mean humor.  While a little bit can go a long way, the film is wearying in is near-constant carpet-bombing of the same jokes, repeated without much variation.  Rape isn’t funny, and neither is specifically homosexual prison rape, so it’s distressing to see the film reach for the same joke every five minutes or so, even in watered-down forms that look a lot like plain homophobia.  Much of the same can be said about the film’s lazy approach to racial stereotyping –setting a sequence inside a white supremacist headquarters can’t hid the fact the Get Hard doesn’t allow for much racial nuance in how it portrays its non-leading characters, and that the seemingly unconscious racism is used as a crutch instead of wittier material.  While Ferrell and Hart are adequate in their roles, they’re not fed very interesting material and the result feels like a waste of two talented comedians; at best, they rescue a script that would have led to a disaster in the hands of less likable performers.  While not entirely unfunny (thrown enough jokes at the screen and a few are bound to stick), Get Hard feels more juvenile than funny and while you may laugh once or twice, you may not necessarily like yourself for doing so.

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