Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Get Hard (2015) - her review

Sometimes it's painfully obvious that Hollywood is a land of rich white men. At the time of some of the most heinous instances of racism in recent memory, Hollywood were out screen testing Etan Cohen's comedy Get Hard, an apparent satire on race relations. By the time the film went on release in early 2015, most people knew it was treading on sensitive ground.

With Will Ferrel playing James King, a fantastically rich hedge fund manager, we see him being sentenced to 10 years in California's notorious San Quentin jail for a crime he apparently didn't commit. With thirty days to put his affairs in order, he calls on the help of Kevin Hart's Darnell Lewis, the owner of a car cleaning business, to help him prepare for jail. Why does he ask Darnell? Because, statistically, one in three black American men will end up in prison at some point in their lives. And Darnell just so happens to be the nearest black man to James at the time. Well, Darnell has never been to jail, but he's more than willing to play the part if it means him getting $30,000 dollars to pay for a new house that's closer to a good school for his daughter.

What hurts this film the most is its laziness. Lazy racist and homophobic jokes are what this film is all about. As well as James King's presumptions about black people, we have Darnell and King visit a gay bar so that James can learn how to give fellatio, as he's gonna need to get used to that, right? The film presumes that every gay man wants to be fellated, and proves itself right, as not only is James successful in finding a man, but Darnell is straight away hit upon too. Even the studio must of known that it was distasteful, as many of the scene's included in the trailer didn't make it into the final cut (no "Eskimo blowjobs" in this version). Oh yeah, and there's all the "get(ting) hard" jokes too.

While it is commendable to try and "undercut", as Cohen has called it, racist stereotypes, it's hard to achieve convincing satire when you constantly reinforce those stereotypes instead of breaking them down. While Darnell is a hard working man who just wants the best for his family (isn't everyone?), his cousin Russell (T.I.) is an a-typical, cinematically at least, "thug", who goes to call James "Mayo" and give him an unlicensed gun.

Conversely, the real issue that the film should of focused on, classism, the relation between the rich and the poor, was just a whisper in the background. Essentially, the film is about how a rich man thought he could get away with stealing millions of dollars, and how a black man is trying to break through his class barriers in order to give the best for his family. Satirising these issues, I feel, would of been much more successful.

I will give credit to Ferrell and Hart though, as they prove their worth as comedic actors despite some of the questionable material. Ferrell gives some fantastic screaming insults, reminiscent of his Ron Burgandy character, as he practises his trash talk, including such gems as "You better get those tits out of my face, or I'm gonna show you my tits!" Hart's highlights include a scene where he plays every kind of guy you might find in a jail courtyard as a way to intimidate James, as well as his speech from Boyz n the Hood. Darnell's wife (Edwina Findley Dickerson) and daughter (Ariana Neal) are also standout parts of the film, giving some much needed grounding to what is often a histrionic film.

In the prison riot scene, there is a monkey. I'm not quite sure how the monkey got there.

As it has been proved a lot recently, there is a fine line between satire and offence. From what I understand, the purpose of satire is to enlighten the audience and the subject of the satire of their misgivings. If Get Hard truly wanted to be a satire, it should of focused more on its subject, in this case classism and racism, and truly mocked them.



You can read Richee's review of Get Hard here

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