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15° & CLEAR SKY ON TUESDAY 28 MAY IN BRISBANE
By Sarah Ward
March 29, 2015
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Get Hard

The only thing getting hard here is the audience's patience.
By Sarah Ward
March 29, 2015
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Did you know that Will Ferrell is white? And that Kevin Hart is small? Do you think it would be funny if each pretended that they weren't? The minds behind Get Hard certainly do, explaining the odd couple meets fish-out-of-water comedy that results. Apparently laughs will flow freely if Ferrell tries to act like a gangsta being schooled by Hart punching above his weight. The key word is apparently.

Things are going pretty well for stockmarket whiz James King (Ferrell), with a happy boss slash soon-to-be father-in-law, Martin (Craig T. Nelson), and an attractive fiancee, Alissa (Alison Brie), to prove it. Then, his engagement party is crashed and his dreams crushed by FBI agents waving around fraud and embezzlement charges.

An unsuccessful attempt to prove his innocence later, and he's destined for 10 years of hard time. Afraid he won't be able to take it, he enlists Darnell Lewis (Hart), an aspiring carwash entrepreneur and family man mistaken for an ex-con, to teach him how to survive on the inside.

Yes, he asks for help getting hard, hence the movie's title and many of its gags. Did you know that the phrase doesn't just refer to acting tough? Of course you do — but based on the amount of genitalia jokes in the screenplay, writer/director Etan Cohen (scribe of Tropic Thunder) and his co-writers Jay Martel and Ian Roberts (TV's Key and Peele) are really afraid that you don't.

That also explains the frequent reminders that jail isn't a nice place and constant mentions of rape and violence, as well as the overt tone of panicked homophobia. Add rampant racism as well as the dismissal of Brie as a money-hungry sex object, and the end result is questionable at best and offensive at worst.

Satire can't be used as an excuse, though the few moments that work — Ferrell dressed up like Lil Wayne while telling Hart that he's not trying to appropriate his culture, for example — indicate that was the aim. It takes more than simply pointing something out and then repeating it for the film to avoid stereotypes, but it just doesn't invest the time and effort. Get Hard even misses the mark on the easiest target here, and the one that actually makes sense: the ridiculously wealthy perpetrators of white-collar crimes that fleece the little guys for a big payday.

Amid all the poorly judged humour, everything plays out as expected, the duo bumbling and bonding, and the film trying to coast by on star power alone. Ferrell and Hart both do what they can with the material, showing plenty of effort for little reward; however, even their innate talents can't save the show.

This isn't the comedy vehicle either could've hoped for, nor a showcase for what might have been a great double act. Looking flatter and blander than any Hollywood effort should, it's not the movie anyone could've hoped for, either. The only thing getting hard here is the audience's patience.

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