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Get Hard (1/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 100 minutes.

Not for children.

If the silly, juvenile double-entendre title isn't enough to warn you, if one wants to see how the sophomoric Judd Apatow ethos of crass vulgarity appealing for 15 year-old males has done to film comedy, one need only compare the Richard Pryor-Gene Wilder 1976 comedy Silver Streak and the less entertaining 1980 comedy Stir Crazy with this Will Ferrell- Kevin Hart knockoff. Although none of the filmmakers, (writers Jay Martell & Ian Roberts and Etan Cohen, also sharing a story by credit with Adam McKay, and director Etan Cohen) give any credit to the makers of Silver Streak (directed by Arthur Hiller and written by Colin Higgins) and Stir Crazy (directed by Sidney Poitier and written by Bruce Jay Friedman), this is clearly based on several episodes from them, especially the brilliant sketch in Silver Streak in which Richie tries to instruct Gene on how to walk and act like a brother. Because of the quality of the two actors, the scenes are fall down-laughing hilarious.

Enter the Ferrell team. They base the entire movie on basically the same premise. Ferrell is a naïve hedge fund manager who is framed and sentenced to prison. Contrary to what happens in real life, the judge gives Ferrell 30 days to get his affairs in order. What actually happens when you’re found guilty and sentenced on a federal rap is that you are taken into custody immediately. But then there would’ve been no movie. Too bad. If only they had taken Will into custody upon sentencing I wouldn’t have had to sit through this and then write a review on it.

Facing the inevitable, Ferrell, playing the same ignoramus he has played since his debut in Elf (2003) hires Hart, a black man who is a car washer, to teach him how to act so he can survive his years in prison because he thinks that Hart, being black, has probably been in prison. In fact, obviously, Hart knows nothing about being in prison but, hey, he needs the money, so he goes along.

What follows is one scene after another aping and expanding upon the few scenes in Silver Streak mentioned above. Unfortunately, because of Apatow’s influence on Ferrell and the new breed of Hollywood comedic actors (called the “Frat Pack” and the “Apatow Chapter”), the scenes are filled with low class, sexual themes some of which are gross and all of which are unfunny, epitomized by a disgusting scene in which Hart instructs Ferrell to learn how to give oral sex to another man with a fast shot of frontal male nudity.

This is an enormously dispiriting movie. Pryor and Wilder might have been able to make something good out of it because the idea has potential. But it would require high quality writing, directing, and acting. I'd like to see Will Ferrell devote his God-given talent to uplifting erudite comedies instead of this unfunny jejune low class junk. He showed he could do high quality work in Stranger Than Fiction (2006), so he has the talent.