Get Hard

Subscribe to Forte Magazine

Get Hard

Anyone remember a Rob Schneider movie titled Big Stan? It’s probably best that you don’t, as it had pretty much the same premise as Get Hard: wussy white guy gets arrested and is so scared of what’s going to happen to him in prison he hires a guy to toughen him up. The difference here is, well, it doesn’t star Rob Schneider and isn’t quite as obsessed with prison rape. Instead our white guy is James King (Will Ferrell), a smugly oblivious millionaire financial planner who’s more than a little surprised when he’s arrested at his engagement party for fraud.
His fiancé (Alison Brie) swiftly kicks him to the curb; his one-time almost father-in-law, and boss, say they’ll do everything they can to clear his name. Now he’s facing 10 years in San Quentin, and only Darnell (Kevin Hart) – who runs his local car wash – can teach him how to survive inside the big house. Not that Darnell’s ever been to prison: King just assumes he has because he’s black, and for $30,000 (enough to get his daughter out of the ghetto school she’s attending) he’s willing to play along. This is pretty uneven at the best of times, with a script that never really gets much beyond a string of sketches – the idea behind this seems to have been “how much dumb stuff can we get these guys to do and say”. The short answer: a lot, and while some of it stumbles – the racial politics here do not stand up to any close examination whatsoever and the gay panic stuff falls flat – both leads are more than funny enough to keep this from becoming an embarrassment.
Ferrell gets the big laughs (his unorthodox approach to trash talk is a highlight: “Son, you’re a big disappointment to your parents – who I just f**ked”) but Hart does more than his fair share as the exasperated straight man. The two make a good team: if Hollywood can come up with another reason to throw them together, that might be a film worth seeking out.