When you go to Taco Bell at 2 o’clock in the morning it’s safe to say you’re not expecting to be dining at a Michelin star restaurant. You are there because A) you are likely intoxicated or under the influence of some drug and suddenly Doritos locos tacos sounds amazing, B) because at this hour the food options are sparse, to say the least, or C) Like Anna Kendrick you have a drive-thru taco addiction. The same reasoning can be applied to Etan Cohen’s directorial debut “Get Hard”, you are there for some cheap laughs and because there is nothing out right now if you’re not a fan of 50-year-old live-action remakes or the latest young adult novel adaptation.
Rich hedge fund manager James King (Will Ferrell) gets sentenced to 10 years at a maximum-security prison for fraud/ embezzlement. Preparing for life behind bars he seeks the aid of lowly car wash manager Darnell (Kevin Hart) who he presumes has been incarcerated due to his race.
The set up to this premise is odd though given they try to paint King in two opposing lights at different points throughout the movie. At first, King is the asshole who tips Darnell unwillingly and whose own employees take pleasure in the harsh nature of his “training” but later King is portrayed as a model of innocence who could have never done the crime. This setup is further complicated by King’s insistence that he is not a racist despite his many previous actions saying otherwise. Another issue is that the film spends much of its runtime trying to prepare King for prison but then decides to switch gears three-quarters of the way through to a heist theme centered around clearing Ferrell’s name. Why these two elements did not occur simultaneously at the very least is beyond me.
Putting asides issues with the plot though (because that’s not what audiences are coming to see in a Will Ferrell led movie) Get Hard does occasionally get funny in typical crude Ferrell fashion. Penned by frequent Ferrell collaborator Adam Mckay (Anchorman, The Other Guys) there are good moments here amplified by Ferrel’s good delivery and his genuine chemistry with Hart but many of the jokes are recycled throughout and lose effectiveness as the film goes on.
At one point the film hammers home the sexual innuendo behind its title which by the third time is overdone. Get Hard is at its best in the impromptu moments where its actors are able to flow and just throw lines out there that catch you off guard. Many of the jokes are quickfire with the exception of one which tries to set up a reference to the classic film Boyz N The Hood. The low brow frat humor while not intrinsically bad is about as low effort as you can get. Ferrell and McKay have far better collaborations together. I recommend seeking those.
All in all this movie does have its moments though I would not go in expecting classic Ferrell or a gross-out comedy that has potential cultural cache like Superbad or The 40-Year-Old Virgin. This film will not challenge you mentally nor is it particularly inventive in its jokes but Ferrell puts forth a decent effort. Go into the movie expecting a silly time killer and you will walk out content, raise the bar any higher than you set yourself up for disappointment.