Get Hard gives Will Ferrell a chance to undo some of the progress he’s made as an actor in the past couple of years.
He’s always best when playing it straight and doing the straight man role rather than playing the comic focus. This — like in The Other Guys — is when he is funniest and the most entertaining. What may surprise those who don’t know, Ferrell is also quite good at drama, like in the little seen, but very good Everything Must Go.
But Ferrell isn’t good when he’s the bumbling, helpless, egocentric moron. That’s James in Get Hard.
James King is a millionaire money man, a proud one-percenter. Stock trading is his forte, and he is so good that his soon-to-be father-in-law makes him partner. At the top of his game and at the engagement party of his air-head, greedy girlfriend, James is arrested for embezzling. He claims innocence and is given a long sentence in San Quentin.
The judge gives James 30 days to get his affairs in order.
Desperate to survive the assumed sexual assaults of hard core criminals, James hires Kevin Hart’s Darnell to train him and give him survival skills to help him “get hard.” He retains Darnell because he’s black and assumes because he’s black — and based on supposed statistics — he’s been to jail.
But Darnell hasn’t been to jail. He’s never been close. However, Darnell is experiencing a different kind of desperation. He needs $30,000 to buy a house and get his family out of the ghetto and his daughter into a better school.
TV writers Jay Martel ( Kate and Peele) and Ian Roberts ( Arrested Development) take their first shot at movie writing. They team with writer Etan Cohen ( Men in Black 3), who takes a first trip to the director’s chair.
The result is a disaster.
The two actors and co-stars Mad Men’s Alison Bree, T.I. and Craig T. Nelson get lost in a script packed in profanity that wallows in gangsters, racist white supremacists and awful, disconnected and mostly unfunny comedy bits.
Ferrell has always been flat out terrible when playing this type of character. He has zip for comedy timing, and slap-stick just isn’t his thing. Hart — who only has the ability to do one character no matter what the movie — offers nothing as his usual smart-mouthed, sassy self.
The only positive about Get Hard is the chemistry between the two stars. They’re having a blast and are sometimes fun to watch. However, for the movie audience they come off like two people sharing an inside joke.
The bottom line: it’s hard — no, make that impossible — to find anything remotely fun or funny about Get Hard.