Get Hard

Low on taste and high on slur, Get Hard is frustratingly flaccid all the way.

With a title like that, writer/director Etan Cohen (not to be confused with the Coen Brothers) has a specific audience in mind. So it comes as no surprise that Get Hard not only aims below the belt, sexual innuendos are rampant alongside stereotypical gags on race, gender and sexual orientation. But if that’s your thing, then you are exactly the type of audience Cohen hopes to make a buck off.

With the opening credits split into two frames, the insinuations are clear – Crime and poverty stricken Black America mounted by Ivy league White America. You could say this is pretty much the main theme before it all starts tasting sour. In the big white corner is James King (Will Farrell), a Harvard educated corporate bigshot with a big slice of the big life. In the tiny black corner is Darnell (Kevin Hart), a car washer barely making ends meet. Their worlds collide when King faces incarceration for fraud and embezzlement. Now facing 10 years ‘hard’ time (one of several references to the title) King seeks out the only person he thinks can help him – Darnell. Why? King assumes that a third of all black men will have been incarcerated in their lifetime. How? For the money, Darnell will groom King from a softy into a hardy. Hence the title Get Hard. Get it?

Thus begins this mashup between two former stand-up comedians, each armed with a barrage of one-liners that I suspect was once used during their heydays on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. With the biggest gag being King’s fear of getting raped in prison, Cohen’s setup is the 30 days of preparation before King becomes an inmate. Although few of these jokes are laugh-out-loud funny, most go flat even before the punchline is thrown. Seasoned delivery from Ferrell and Hart aside, the problem lies in Cohen’s gags that are both outdated as well as overdone. It’s one thing to read these jokes on a subway ride after work, but absolutely horrendous when materialized on screen. It doesn’t help either that almost every joke told has been done before, in addition to a formulaic story where everyone in the audience knows King is framed and by whom.

For all those who got a kick out of watching Farrell in Old School (I know I did), there’s still a glimpse of that side splitting aptitude in him but Get Hard doesn’t do much to get it out (think Steve Martin in Bringing Down the House). In comparison, Hart has more or less the edge here but falls victim too, to a sophomore effort from Cohen. Ultimately, it all comes down to taste. Even so, Get Hard is harsh on the ears and feeble on the brain, but frustratingly flaccid all the way.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.