Etan Cohen‘s Get Hard is a more-than-capable R-rated comedy that showcases the talent of its two stars, Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart. Oddly enough, Hart outshines Ferrell by a long shot in this mostly silly and over-the-top, but still harmless film about a rich white man taking advice from the only black guy that he knows on how to survive in prison. Get Hard comes with your traditional Will Ferrell-style comedy, mixed with a more subtle, yet more effective Kevin Hart that completely owns the film and its R-rated shenanigans.
James (Will Ferrell) is a blue collar man. He’s super wealthy and a complete idiot and quickly finds himself facing a lengthy prison sentence for something that he claims to have not done. Darnell (Kevin Hart) is a struggling businessman trying to afford a new house so that he can put his daughter in a good school and keep his family safe and out of the more rough neighborhoods.
The two cross paths as James has a mental breakdown after his prison sentence and realizes that his only black “friend” Darnell has probably gone to prison at some point in his life, because James’ narrow mind is full of racial wrongs and stereotypes.
But the two quickly realize that they both aren’t exactly who they seem to be, with James slowly revealing his kind heart and generally good nature, which surrounds his complete stupidity, while Darnell reveals that he’s not just some gang-banger, but instead a caring father and loving husband just trying to make ends meet.
Yeah, Etan Cohen‘s Get Hard isn’t exactly the most thought-provoking comedy or even a clever one by any stretch, but it knows that right from the start and never tries to embrace being anything other than silly and light-hearted, while also full of some R-rated raunchy comedy, which is always a good thing coming from the sometimes safe Will Ferrell and mostly PG-13 Kevin Hart.
Together, the pair of comedians make Get Hard something much better than it rightfully deserves to be, thanks to Ferrell’s constantly odd and obnoxious dialogue and Kevin Hart‘s ability to give the film so much energy and charisma. Seriously, I never knew Hart could be so entertaining without being his usual loud and in-your-face self. Here, Hart plays the calmer of the two funny men and he does so with a certain set of skills that almost always make him more memorable than Ferrell.
Hart channels a version of himself that’s still usual funny self, but funny in a different manner than one might expect from Hart. He does this, while Ferrell does his usual act, which in his defense works just fine for this sort of film, while also sort of highlighting Hart’s talent. Ferrell may be the top bill of the cast, but Hart easily steals this film right from under him and he does it in a way that will have you paying a closer eye on the screen the next time there’s an R-rated Kevin Hart movie announced.
Cohen’s direction can best be described as simple and maintained, with the film packing very few surprises, yet enough laughs to keep you awake and alive and ready for the next extensive gag. Having stars like Ferrell and Hart definitely make Cohen’s job easier and it shows, because the film doesn’t exactly scream smart or clever from a writing or directing standpoint. Cohen’s main focus is laughs and easy ones at that and he achieves that goal without much struggle.
The film’s predictable and very cut and dry, but that doesn’t make it a chore to sit through. There is a small stretch in the second half that makes things slow down a bit more than they should, but Ferrell and Hart do their best to speed things up and make it across the finish line without too much of a problem.
I’d definitely consider this one of Will Ferrell‘s weaker entries in the filmography, but that’s not me calling it a bad film, but a very average one.
Kevin Hart truly shines and for that reason alone I’d suggest checking it out at some point, because the man is slowly becoming an R-rated comedian worth watching and keeping an eye on. His PG-13 material was never all that great, but his R-rated material is quickly turning into instant gold and a guarantee of at least a couple hard belly laughs.
Get Hard isn’t as edgy or hilarious as some might hope, but it gets the job done based on its performances alone. Ferrell and Hart work great together and help create a mostly balanced comedy, no thanks to director Etan Cohen‘s mostly tame and simplistic approach. It works and occasionally it works well, but don’t expect much of anything else.
Get Hard – 7.5/10