I recently reviewed Kevin Hart’s other most recent film, The Wedding Ringer, and something I said then is that his track record is very hit and miss. The same can be said for Will Ferrell, who has made some brilliant comedies, such as Anchorman, Stepbrothers, and even been funny when just giving his voice like in The LEGO Movie. He’s also made some very poor films, Land of the Lost and Bewitched are particular low points. Even so, these are two comedians that I still give the benefit of the doubt, so the thought of seeing them together was quite appealing.
Their chemistry was by far the best thing about Get Hard. I can’t deny that part of it is seeing two people who are so physically different together, but they also played off each other well in scenes that were clearly improvised. Will Ferrell plays white-collar businessman James, who’s accused of committing millions of dollars worth of fraud, but insists that he’s innocent throughout. This isn’t a huge departure from the usual, loud and frequently upset characters he usually plays. Kevin Hart is playing Darnell, an honest family man who James asks to help him ‘get hard’ (in other words get ready for his prison sentence), on the sole basis of him being black, and therefore having almost definitely been to prison himself. As you can probably guess, Darnell is also a lot like the characters Kevin Hart has played in the past, speaking quickly and having a lot of energy.
As a premise, this automatically leads to some funny moments. Jokes about race, class and the sitcom staple of misunderstanding all provide some laughs, but they’re a very basic level of humour. Get Hard struggles to provide anything past that level, which is where things really fall short. There’s a strange balance through long sections of this film where I wasn’t laughing, but for some reason I also wasn’t bored. I can’t quite put my finger on what Get Hard was doing right, but it managed to keep my interest through the unfunny sections, and the scenes that had heavy exposition.
This film is also incredibly predictable. Even before anything had really happened, every character arc was obvious, and every plot point was predictable. This can be overlooked a little, as apart from horror, comedy is the genre where these things matter the least, but there are films that are both a lot funnier than Get Hard, and have a more interesting story.
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