SXSW Film Review – Get Hard
SXSW in the past few years has procured a few “mainstream,” non-indie films for their line-ups. This year was no exception with Spy, Trainwreck, and Get Hard premiering at the film fest. A sucker for the comedy of Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell separately, the pairing of the two comedians was enough to wake me at the crack of dawn for SXXpress passes to the film.
Get Hard centers on two polar opposite characters: James (Will Ferrell), is a white, rich stockbroker, and Darnell (Kevin Hart) is a black, making-ends-meet, family man with his own car washing business. Their lives cross paths only in that Darnell washes James’ car while he makes a ton of money for his fiancée’s (Alison Brie) father, Martin (Craig T. Nelson). James’ life hits a major snag when he is accused of stealing money from the company and is arrested. He ends up with ten years in prison with 30 days to get his life in order. In comes the partnership between Darnell and James. James is convinced that Darnell has been to prison and wants him to teach how to survive in San Quentin. Darnell does not deny that he has been to prison, and accepts $30,000 to teach him some jail knowledge a.k.a prison boot camp. The hitch is that Darnell has never been, and starts the process of lying about how things are in prison.
Within a few hours of the premiere, articles were written about what went down after the film ended. Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell bailed on the post-film Q & A and let director Etan Cohen take the heat. The film was called racist, really racist. The film will be judged harshly for the stereotypes it promotes and uses them to further the story and comedy of it. The plot alone screams blatant stereotypes, but maybe that is okay because Darnell is really not a gangster, just pretending to be one. Blacks are not the only ones used for comedy. Hispanics and gays are also thrown under the bus. Gay men are used explicitly in the second half of the film because what would a comedy like this be without a little penis.
The other major complaint you will no doubt have about the film is that it is just not that funny. I am all for the Kevin Hart/Will Ferrell powerhouse, but the bit gets old really quick. I found myself silently sitting in the chair while others laughed. I am not saying that it is not funny at all, but is this some feel-good, hilarious film? No. The plot is bad and the script is not that great either. The story is by Will Ferrell, Ian Roberts, Jay Martel and Adam McKay, but the script is by Roberts, Martel, and Cohen. It was alluded to at the screening that Cohen pretty much made the script and the film into what it is, and that makes me really afraid of what the original script looked like.
Get Hard had the possibility of being a really fun and hilarious film. Unfortunately, the film fell far short of that. If you take two comedic stars like Hart and Ferrell and put them together, your film is going to make money. Imagine if the script was original and did not use stereotypes to further its comedy. The film had the potential to be a blockbuster, and considering the stars of the film, the opening weekend will probably still be impressive. I would love to see both of them in another film together. Their chemistry is great and they can obviously play off each other. Get Hard is just not a great comedy that people will remember a year from now.