Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart in a buddy comedy should equal gold. But with “Get Hard” the result is the exact opposite. In fact, even though it attempts to play it tough with a Hard-R tone, it’s actually quite light and wimpy – often not even trying to make us laugh.
The premise itself is pretty weak: Ferrell plays James King, a multi-millionaire stock market tycoon who’s arrested for fraud and sentenced to 10 years in a maximum security prison. He knows he won’t survive behind bars, so he hires Darnell (played by Hart) who’s been cleaning his car for two years, to teach him how to be tough so he can defend himself against other inmates.
Why Darnell?: Because he’s Black, and because James is racist, he assumes that Darnell has been to prison before. Of course he hasn’t – but he makes believe he has because he needs the $30,000 James is paying him so he can move his wife and daughter out of the bad neighborhood they live in.
“Get Hard” was screened at the SXSW Film Festival, and Etan Cohen (the writer of “Tropic Thunder” and “Men in Black 3”, who makes his feature film directorial debut here) was blasted in a Q&A for all of the racist and homophobic jokes, stereotypes and profiling in the film.
And while all of that is true, his biggest crime is that nothing in “Get Hard” is remotely funny. The credits say a screenplay was written, but I find it hard to believe. Each scene is staged in a surprisingly straight-forward fashion, and Ferrell and Hart seem to be ad-libbing all of their lines. Ferrell’s proven by now he isn’t funny without a script, and Hart has nothing to play-off of. I kept waiting for a great exchange – and then gave-up.
“Get Hard” is charged with multiple crimes including a bland storyline, invisible direction, offensive material, and stealing millions of dollars from moviegoers all over the country. Mr. Ferrell and Mr. Hart should think long and hard about the next projects they take.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Get Hard” gets an F.
Running Time: 100 min.