Homophobia and racism lead the way in a barrage of misfiring jokes in this sub-par prison comedy.
Will Ferrell’s career is full of ups and downs; he reached dazzling heights with the hilarious Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, but also hit new lows never previously thought reachable with the gut-wrenchingly poor Semi Pro. Get Hard, his new outing, is painfully close to the latter, perhaps even surpassing it in ‘poorness’.
Directed by Etan Cohen (my futile hopes of the Coen brothers being involved were immediately dashed upon realization that Ethan Coen and Etan Cohen are apparently two very different people), the film follows the story of James King (Ferrell), an affluent businessman who, after being accused of fraud and embezzlement, is sentenced to 10 years in the maximum-security institution of San Quentin. With 30 days to get his affairs in order, and an intense fear of getting raped in prison, King assumes that the only black man he knows, Darnell (Kevin Hart), can prepare him for life on the inside.
The main problem of Get Hard is its huge reliance on homophobia and racism to provide the laughs; I can’t recall a single ‘joke’ that isn’t there at the expense of a homophobic or racist remark. For a film that is marketed as a comedy, I think I chuckled (not laughed) maybe two, or three times at the most, one of them being at an amusing Boyz n the Hood reference.
With the jokes constantly misfiring, Cohen begins clutching at straws in the shape of musical cameos. We see singer/songwriter John Mayer making a lame appearance singing an unbearably cringe-worthy song about a quarter of the way into the film, which had me questioning why I chose this over the new SpongeBob film. We also see rapper T.I. acting out the racist stereotype of a Crenshaw gangster.
You know you’re in for an uncomfortable ride when you hear Iggy Azalea’s ‘Fancy’ blaring out of those looming cinema speakers during the opening credits. The film really is a wasted opportunity; the combined screen presence of Ferrell and Hart could be magical if in the right hands. Instead, Cohen squanders it with an all-too-heavy reliance on offensive and crude humour.