Get Hard is probably the lamest comedy of all time that also happens to be occasionally amusing. I mean, I guess it’s hard not to happen upon a couple humorous bits when you have talent like Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart headlining your film. Those guys can improv all day long – and they likely had to in order to generate what few chuckles this film generates. But when the chief source of your scripted humor centers squarely on anal rape, you’ve got a big problem.
This is most certainly not one of those inspired Ferrell-Adam McKay collaborations like Anchorman or Step Brothers that take lunacy to new heights. It’s more a brainless, scattershot wannabe. McKay retains producer and story credit, but the keys to this already-clunky vehicle were handed to first-time feature director Etan Cohen, who drives it off the deep end nearly from the opening frames.
The setup is labored right up front: Ferrell is a stock market fat cat accused of fraud and embezzlement and slapped with a 10-year sentence at San Quentin. In the 30 days before his sentence begins, he pays small-time car washer Hart $30,000 to teach him how to “get hard” (the film intends that pun, several times over) and survive the harsh environs of maximum security prison. Coincidences abound – Ferrell is actually innocent, the subject of the most obvious framing in film history, and Hart has never actually been to prison, but needs the 30 grand to close on his dream house (“Get Cute”). The unlikely duo proceed to engage in the most detailed and expensive prison preparatory course ever conceived. Sets are built, a cast is hired, and hypothetical jail scenarios are enacted like a madcap version of Scared Straight. Not sure who foots the bill for all this mayhem, since Hart is hurting for cash and Ferrell’s assets are presumably frozen, but there I go trying to bring logic into the conversation.
Cohen’s only prior directorial credit is a short film titled My Wife is Retarded, and that makes perfect sense on the evidence of every female character portrayed in this film. Not that any of them are “retarded,” so to speak. But there are plenty of bitches, sluts, gold-diggers, and whores. The token wholesome wife and mother is there, to be sure, but that only goes to accentuate all the “retarded” women in the periphery. And it doesn’t stop there – Get Hard is also gleefully racist and moderately homophobic. Not only do the aforementioned rape jokes land with increasingly loud thuds, but a sequence in which Hart takes Ferrell to a “gay neighborhood” to learn how to give a man oral sex is… yeah, about as seedy and uncomfortable as it reads.
But then, of course, Ferrell and Hart sometimes can’t help but be funny. When freed from the confines of the screenplay – which is actually quite inhibiting for a narrative so inept and shallow – they craft some genuine laughs, but those are just momentary non-sequiturs that allow us to glimpse at what a Ferrell-Hart partnership might result in, if only it wasn’t Get Hard.