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GET HARD

SYNOPSIS: When millionaire James King (Will Ferrell) is nailed for fraud and bound for San Quentin, he turns to Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) to prep him to go behind bars.

Review by Louise Keller:
Politically incorrect, racist, homophobic, crude, rude and pretty stupid, this Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart odd couple comedy offers some laughs, albeit mostly for the fans seeking escapism and a dose of their comic lunacy. If you're easily offended, don't go near this film. The joke relies on Ferrell's self-centred millionaire James King recruiting Darnell Lewis (Hart), to toughen him up for his impending stint at San Quentin, when convicted of corporate fraud. Like the title implies, the film is replete with double entendres and much of the content is blatantly sexual with crass language descriptions that would make a sailor blush.

Offensive by design and low-brow by nature, the joke wears thin by the end, but the film's saving grace is its raw energy; a feeling that anything goes, as the narrative leapfrogs from one unlikely bad-taste scenario to the next. These include an encounter with a white supremacists bikie group; a strength-building workout using Hart as a dumbbell; being schooled in the role of prisoner at the plush home wine cellar; learning the art of giving sexual favours at a gay pick-up bar and so on. The flash of penis in the latter scene brought shrieks of disbelief at the Sydney premiere.

When the film begins, we enter the comfortable world of James King. He wakes to serene classical music, a gorgeous girl lies in bed beside him and his staff baulks at his in-their-face naked yoga stretches by the French doors. By contrast, the hard-working Darnell Lewis' world is a grind. The loving family man, Darnell's Hollywood Luxury Bubbles car wash company needs a financial boost. But there are bubbles of another kind at King's elaborate engagement party, when the cops arrive, arrest him and give him 30 days to get his affairs in order before incarceration.

King's preposterous rationale to choose Darnell for 'jail-coaching' is predicated on statistics: allegedly a third of all black Americans spend some time in jail. The three slices of pizza analogy is funny. One of the smartest scenes plays out on a tennis court converted into a prison yard, in which Hart runs around Ferrell as he assumes the persona of numerous undesirable characters to make his point. Hart is at his best here. Ferrell's dress-up as Lil' Wayne in army dacks, leopard print and bling makes for a good sight gag and the scene featuring rapper T.I (as Darnell's ex-con cousin) is perhaps the moment when the comedic elements actually gel. Watch for Craig T. Nelson who plays Ferrell's crooked boss and future father-in-law.
Much of the humour relies on the near one-foot height difference between lanky Ferrell and the diminutive Hart. The ever-evolving racial theme puts the focus squarely on Hart's comedic style, while Ferrell delivers feral Ferrell humour, never shirking from self-ridicule. Surely there must be a better vehicle for these two talents?

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

GET HARD (MA15+)
(US, 2015)

CAST: Kevin Hart, Will Ferrell, T.I., Craig T. Nelson

PRODUCER: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay

DIRECTOR: Etan Cohen

SCRIPT: Jay Martel, Ian Roberts, Etan Cohen

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tim Suhrstedt

EDITOR: Michael L. Sale

MUSIC: Christoph Beck

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Maher Ahmad

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 26, 2015







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