In 2006, screenwriter Etan Cohen wrote Idiocracy, one of the most overlooked satirical comedies of the past decade; it highlighted Cohen as a writer that balances low-brow humour with social commentary. He would repeat this combination two years later in Tropic Thunder. So when one hears he is to collaborate with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay to tackle the recent economic crisis and the vast wealth gap of today, one expects a clever blend of the aforementioned facets. Alas, what is presented is a shallow experience in Cohen’s directorial debut.
Wall Street stock broker James King (Will Ferrell) has been wrongfully convicted of insider trading and tax evasion. King is given 30 days leave before his ten-year incarceration at a maximum security prison. He hires Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) – whom he incorrectly believes has been inside before, simply because “one in three African-Americans have been in prison” – to teach him how to survive.
The film’s opening montage of stock shots of homeless people and wealthy Wall Street patrons falsely lures the audience into believing this film will tackle said economic divide. This theme is then side-lined to tackle racial division through King and Lewis, only this is then side-lined to take a pop at homosexuals. In short, it sets up serious social issues only to drown them out in bad-taste scenarios. While it never feels mean spirited, it’s a shame the audience is not offered a more thorough critique as seen in McKay, Ferrell and Cohen’s prior work.
While the film’s approach to these themes is problematic, its saving grace can be found in the performances of Hart and Ferrell. While their improvised moments veer towards self-indulgence with minimal pay-off, it is their chemistry, pacing and energy that keeps Get Hard afloat. It’s unfortunate this is only true for the first two acts of the film, for when it enters into its final scenes, the pace lulls itself into a standardised climax that feels forced and simplified.
Get Hard is an underwhelming and repetitive comedy that masks its social issues with bad taste and rape jokes. Hart and Ferrell’s energy are able to only take it so far, and with the talent on board for this project, one would expect more. There are a couple of noteworthy highlights sparsely peppered throughout, but for the most part it is a hollow and crass comedy.
Get Hard is released nationwide on 27th March 2015.
Watch the trailer for Get Hard here: