Combustible Celluloid
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With: Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Craig T. Nelson, Alison Brie, Edwina Findley Dickerson, Ariana Neal, Erick Chavarria, T.I., Paul Ben-Victor, John Mayer, Jon Eyez, Nito Larioza, Dan Bakkedahl, Greg Germann, Ron Funches
Written by: Jay Martel, Ian Roberts, Etan Cohen, based on a story by Adam McKay, Jay Martel, Ian Roberts
Directed by: Etan Cohen
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive crude and sexual content and language, some graphic nudity, and drug material
Running Time: 100
Date: 03/27/2015

Get Hard (2015)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Jail Polish

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Given their fan bases, the teaming of Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart in the new movie Get Hard, is a financially sound idea. But it's also a funny one. Consider the gimmick of size. Will Ferrell is funniest when he plays characters that are like children pretending at being an adult in a 6'3" teddy bear frame.

Meanwhile, Kevin Hart is funniest when he exploits his 5'4" height, pretending to be tougher and more unpredictably explosive than he looks. However, the really striking thing about Get Hard is how quickly Ferrell and Hart generate a genuine warmth together. They really do seem like the best of friends.

Ferrell plays a wealthy corporate businessman, James King, newly promoted by the CEO (Craig T. Nelson) and about to marry the CEO's daughter (Alison Brie). Unfortunately, he's arrested for fraud and embezzlement, though he insists he's innocent. A judge, tired of wealthy crooks getting light sentences, gives him ten years in San Quentin. Terrified of what will happen to him inside, he hires car detailer Darnell Lewis (Hart) to teach him to be "hard."

The joke, and not a very good one, is that Darnell is as straight-arrow as they come and has never been to prison. But he still has plenty to teach, and he can always call on his gangster cousin Russell (rapper T.I.), who is the real deal.

Screenwriter Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder, Men in Black 3) makes his feature directorial debut with Get Hard, and even though his movie runs only 100 minutes, it feels flabby. (The movie itself could have used some "hardness.") It can't find much of a tone, and it's neither sharply constructed, nor is it reckless or anarchic. It relies too often on prison-rape jokes, and it makes some vague attempts at racial-equality humor, but it never feels dangerous or satirical; it's always looking for "love your brother"-type hugs.

However, in more than a few moments, the stars deliver pleasing chuckles with their chemistry, Hart putting on a show of fake knowledge, and Ferrell putting on a show of fake ignorance. In one terrific scene, Hart pretends to be three different inmates in a fictitious prison yard, each trying to intimidate Ferrell; he dashes from one side to the other like a hip-hop Bugs Bunny, changing voices and characters, and Ferrell gets swept up in the razzle-dazzle.

Regardless of the motivation, it was a fine idea to get these two together. If only they could have had some "harder" material.

Warner Home Video's Blu-ray release is of above-average quality, and includes both the 100-minute theatrical cut and a longer, 107-minute "uncut" version (that I did not have time to watch). Most of the extras are very brief and intended to be funny (no commentary tracks, etc.). There are outtakes, deleted scenes (24 minutes), several "line-o-ramas," a sit-down between Ferrell and Hart, and other behind-the-scenes moments.{subid}&url=hitlist.asp?searchfield=marvel
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