Ahh…. the racial stereotype comedy movie. A staple of low-grade scripts since the dawn of time it seems. And the latest version “Get Hard” from director Etan Cohen keeps with this repeatedly rinsed rag cloth of an idea. The only thing it got hard for me, was my set face of boredom.
Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself here, let’s talk about the story. Will Ferrel plays a rich and very privileged businessman who is on the verge of taking another step up the ladder within the stock company he works with. However, an allegation of fraud turns everyone against him – he loses his wife, his job, his assets are frozen, and he faces going to a maximum security prison. So in an act of (I guess) desperation, he hires his car washer (Kevin Hart) in order to teach him how to survive prison. With just weeks to go, Darrell has a lot to do.
Now…. let’s just pass by the fact that the assumption is made by Ferrel’s character that because he is dealing with a black person, he must have gone to prison. We’d be here arguing about that problem all damm night otherwise. So I’ll try and stay on line for the moment in terms of the film itself. It is a mix of 90% comedic set pieces, 10% storyline about if Will Ferrel’s character was framed or not. Which gets stapled to the last 20 minutes of the running time. And the crux of most of the comedy is on this businessman trying to beef up both physically and emotionally. Darrell takes the job as the promised money will help him send his daughter to a better school, using it in some circumstances to just fuck around. It does lead to some funny moments like seeing every aspect of the businessman’s home turned into a staged prison.
I can’t really say that Hart of Farrell are acting badly, they do seem to be trying as well as getting into their characters as much as possible. They hit the jokes at the right moments of delivery, and don’t hold back with the outrageous. The premise at its most basic is a good one and leads to a few moments of chuckle-worthy comedy. And the small amount of attention given to Darrell’s own life is good too, when he’s on par he is a good actor with a lot of charisma.
But…. and this is a big ol’ but. Almost the entirety of the comedy pivots around the singular idea that these characters are white and black, and so they must act differently and constantly point out that they are different. Mix that with a story about a businessman crashing and burning, and in the year of 2015 that is an EXTREMELY tired premise. It constantly digs for gold, but only yields old bones. More than finding it annoying or offensive, it is just plain boring. And that in a comedy is the death-stroke.
It is almost like the script was passing between people for several years, became out-dated, but then got raised from the dead and forced into another comedy idea. That inclusion of the “who did it?” plot thread at the end is so forced I’m shocked it didn’t break my TV with the effort of playing it. Racial jokes fly by left, right, and centre, but rarely with a sense that you’re in on the joke. It could be just as easily assumed that this guy is a rich racist moron (which he is), who doesn’t think what he does or says is in any way wrong. (which he doesn’t) The Nazi biker gann scene gives some minor relief as we can laugh at the joke as well, but it is a fleeting moment that once again, feels like a forced idea to liven up a slow paced end to the second act.
Like I said though, I didn’t hate this film. It never got to a point of blatant offense, it just had me bored and in want of watching something else. I don’t blame the actors since there wasn’t a whole heap they could do to save the script. This is just an idea that should have been passed over, and don’t get me wrong, comedites focussing on race CAN be very good when done right. But that wasn’t the case here.
Thanks for reading!