Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Get Hard

Prepare to feel old – Elf was released 12 years ago. The first Anchorman was 11 years ago. Back in the early 2000s, Ferrell was a comedic force to be reckoned with. But now, he feels a little past his prime and maybe even a little desperate. In recent years, he’s continued to disappoint – particularly in the underwhelming Anchorman 2. His latest, Get Hard, is out now on DVD & Blu-Ray. Is it a return to form, or is it a continuation of his downward spiral?

Directed by Etan Cohen (not to be confused with Ethan Coen, of the Coen Brothers), Get Hard tells the story of millionaire James King (Ferrell). When he’s jailed for fraud and bound for the violent San Quentin prison, he turns to his car-washer Darnell (Kevin Hart, Ride Along) to prep him to go behind bars. But as James continues to plead his innocence, Darnell begins to believe his story and together they set out to clear his name. Plot-wise, Get Hard is nothing to write home about. Like all comedies of this sort, the appeal is the inappropriate humour. But Get Hard can’t really decide if it wants a plot or not. The prison prep sequences – in which Darnell attempts to teach James how to fight, talk smack and assert himself – take up a huge majority of the runtime, with very little focus placed on any story during these silly, drawn-out scenes. It’s unusual then when bits of the story are introduced and twists and attempts at tension are forcefully shoehorned in. Where recent comedies like Horrible Bosses are 50% comedy, 50% coherent plot – Get Hard felt more like 75% comedy and 25% plot. This balance didn’t work for me. Once the prison training stuff is over (finally), it becomes a strange buddy comedy that climaxes with a Mexican stand-off on a yacht. As such, Get Hard is almost like two films in one. 

For me, Get Hard feels like a bad remake of a Richard Pryor & Gene Wilder film that never happened. The inappropriate homosexuality and race jokes would’ve worked coming out of their mouths in the 1970s but from Ferrell and Hart, it feels very forced and uncomfortable. Sure, a few jokes hit and got a laugh. But for every 1 laugh, there were 10 sighs. Kevin Hart is on decent enough form here and is continuing to earn a reputation in contemporary Hollywood comedy, but Ferrell is really showing his age and declining relevance. Maybe even if Ferrell had made this back in his glory days in the early 2000s it would’ve been okay, but now he’s getting too old for this shit. With the exception of Anchorman 2, his Anchorman co-star Steve Carell has been tackling more challenging work of late – Foxcatcher in particular was astoundingly good – but Ferrell seems adamant that he isn’t going to grow up. Now I’m not a bitter old cynic, I’m all for some childish inappropriate laughs, but here…here, it didn’t work. Ferrell could easily do something dark and quiet like Carell if he put his mind to it. But no, there’s dick jokes out there and someone has to tell them…Still, audiences are evidently continuing to eat it up, as Get Hard grossed over $105million. I guess the problem doesn’t lie with Ferrell. It lies with the bloody audiences who keep supporting this kind of shite.

Get Hard is another disappointing effort from Ferrell almost saved by a watchable Hart. But on the whole, it’s another instantly forgettable film in an ever-growing list of modern American comedy films with no life ahead of it. Let’s just hope it doesn’t continue the trend of bad film, even worse sequel. It doesn’t need one. It can’t even justify its own existence, let alone a second!

Get Hard goes to bad movie jail – the sentence? Life imprisonment. 2/5.


Sam Love

Get Hard at CeX

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