Juvenile his films certainly are but will Ferrell has an almost magical ability to leave otherwise mature adults rolling on the floor with laughter at his emotionally overwrought man-child antics. The magic isn’t quite there, however, in his latest farce Get Hard. A ludicrous plot, uninspired jokes, cringe-worthy stereotypes and not quite enough Ferrell insanity render Get Hard a disappointing addition to the Ferrell canon.
Ferrell plays rich but astonishingly stupid fund manager James King who seems to have the perfect life, at least for a self-absorbed, tasteless white Republican. When King is framed for fraud in a supremely predictable set-up and sentenced to 10 years at San Quentin, his terror of prison rape leads him to recruit car wash owner and supposed ex-con Darnell (Kevin Hart) to coach him –in the thirty days before he goes inside – how to survive prison. King is such a doofus he assumes that simply because Darnell is black he must have been in the big house. Darnell transforms King’s tacky mansion into a mock prison as he attempts to turn the snivelling suit into a hard man. This is the very unlikely set-up for scenes of male bonding, training montages and mostly unfunny gags about the dangers of prison life.
The film briefly attempts some social commentary about corrupt corporate America goes nowhere with this them. The film also momentarily parodies narrow-minded white heterosexual perceptions of African Americans and gays but ends up indulging the attendant stereotypes. It doesn’t help that a lot of the dialogue is extremely puerile and seems to have been made up on the spot.
Get Hard could have been much funnier if Will Ferrell had delivered his typical comical craziness but he’s not on his game here. He seems uncertain about how to portray James King; at times he’s simply a straight laced dunce but on other occasions he’s an erratic nut. Either way, he’s never as funny or endearing as he is in so many other films. As usual Kevin Hart babbles maniacally and generally outstays his welcome in each scene. One tedious sequence, in which he attempts to expose King to the dangers of the exercise yard by playing three different caricatures of prisoners, seems go on forever. The supporting cast offer very little with Alison Brie and Craig T Nelson in thankless role as Ferrell’s fiancé and Father in law respectively.
Any film that contains a comic genius like Ferrell can’t be all bad and Get Hard does have a few laugh-out-loud moments including a staged prison riot in Ferrell’s home where a baboon inexplicably appears. For the most part, though, this is pretty dire stuff.
Let’s hope Ferrell returns to more inspired comic mayhem in the future.
Nick’s rating: **.
Director(s): Etan Cohen.
Release date: 26th March 2015.
Running time: 100 mins.
Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM. Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show