Reason for the Rating: Pervasive crude and sexual content and language, some graphic nudity, and drug material
Plot Summary: An out-of-touch, white millionaire is convicted of fraud and obtusely turns to a black employee for “prison lessons.”
PopFam Recommends: You can do better.
Put Kevin Hart in any movie, and it’s going to be funny. Add Will Ferrell, and you know you’re getting more of the same. That seems to be the extent of the plot premise for Get Hard, a comedy about white comeuppance and black stereotypes. Here’s the story:
James King (Will Ferrell) is a multimillionaire hedge fund manager living the good life and the American Dream...until he’s (wrongly) convicted of embezzling money. He’s sentenced to 10 years of hard time in San Quentin prison, and he’s got just 30 days to get his affairs in order before reporting for his sentence.
White, rich, and woefully out of touch, King is terrified of serving time. He’s particularly obsessed with the possibility of being the victim of homosexual rape while in San Quentin. So, he does what you’d expect any rich, woefully out of touch white man to do: He hires a black man to get him prison-ready.
Problem is, the black man he hires is Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart), a small businessman working to make ends meet. He’s never been to prison, nor lived a “gangsta” life. But King sees a black man and assumes he has, offering a big chunk of money for 30 days work to get him prepared for prison. What’s a working-class black man to do? He takes the money and invents a persona to meet his client’s expectations. Together they “train” for the coming years in San Quentin State.
The obvious expectations about this movie are true: Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell are a very funny team, often laugh-out-loud-choke-on-your-popcorn funny. Kevin Hart especially draws out the humor, in both his mannerisms and comedic timing. He’s a treat to watch. Ferrell plays to his strengths of big, crying, man-child—pretty much the same character he plays in most of his movies. But, if you don’t know what you’re getting with Will Ferrell at this point, then you deserve any disappointment you feel after watching him act. (Personally, I enjoy the man-child shtick for awhile, so it didn’t bother me here.)
The main problem with Get Hard was simply the one-note script. The premise of “black man gets white man ready to face in prison” certainly has it’s possibilities, but Get Hard misses most of them. As a result, it quickly devolves into a desperate, torturous cycle of homosexual rape jokes and generally racist stereotypes that become increasingly graphic and unnecessary.
The most interesting part of this movie for me was its comedic exploration of black/white relations in America. A smaller movie without the necessity for “blockbuster” label might have brought this dynamic into much better focus—and been a film we would have been talking about for years. Much as I like Will Ferrell, I kind of wish Get Hard had starred just Kevin Hart and a lower-wattage co-star, in a film that allowed time for creating comedy out of real relationships instead of contrived situations and one-dimensional characters.
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