I’m really tired of dick jokes.
It’s not just Get Hard‘s fault; It’s probably my third favorite comedy of SXSW, behind My Name is Doris and Spy but just ahead of Trainwreck. And Trainwreck did a lot to get me to a point where it would be easy to get fed up with sex humor (there is a TON).
But still. I’m really tired of dick jokes.
It seems like with each of the headlining studio comedies I’ve seen, all I’m really able to say about them is, “Well, if you liked X movie then you’ll probably like this one,” but I guess that isn’t really that bad of a thing to say. There are different brands of humor that different people find really compelling. So if you liked Will Ferrell’s other R-rated buddy comedies like Step Brothers and The Other Guys, you’ll probably really like this, too.
That said, I talked to at least a couple folks who identified as not Will Ferrell fans, but really enjoyed the movie. They key for them seemed to be that Ferrell doesn’t play his typical arrogant idiot of Anchorman or Talladega Nights, but is a more sympathetic and even empathetic figure in this movie, and that kept things funny for them throughout the entire movie.
Of course, Get Hard has the added benefit of co-starring Kevin Hart, and Hart produces the best scene of the entire movie.
The premise of the movie is that successful stock broker James King (Ferrell) is convicted for a securities fraud he probably didn’t actually commit, but in 30 days is going to have to report to a maximum security prison, so he hires struggling entrepreneur Darnell Lewis (Hart) to teach him how to survive in prison because Darnell is black and King assumes he’s been to jail. Darnell plays along because the money he’ll receive from James is enough to move his family into a nicer neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Darnell sets to making James’s mansion as much like prison as possible, including turning his tennis court into a prison yard. And so we arrive back at the best scene of the movie.
Darnell is teaching James how to steer clear of the gangs, and Hart (as Darnell) jumps into three different characters by the time the scene is over, chasing James away from the black and Latino territories of the yard, and cozying up to him as a gay lover. It’s actually not the funniest part of the movie, but the acting chops it took for Hart to pull the scene off are incredibly impressive. It reminded me of the scene in Spider-Man where Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn is in front of a mirror arguing with himself as his Green Goblin alter ego:
I will say that, despite the onslaught of dick jokes, the movie does manage to hold some satirical relevance. Get Hard is so much about racial stereotypes, and director Etan Cohen talked about the difficulty in finding the right satirical balance so the movie would be challenging the stereotypes, not just reinforcing them. “We wanted to make a real statement about this stuff,” he said.
He was also asked repeatedly about directing two massively successful comedians in Ferrell and Hart, and the challenges of balancing scripted humor with room for improvisation. “Get the thing as written, then turn them loose,” was his strategy, and Cohen did say that several of the movie’s best comedic moments came from improvisation within the characters. If you do see the movie, the “cry face” was nowhere in the original script.
Get Hard hits theaters in just a couple weeks, March 27th.