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Get Hard
Genre Comedy
 
Review:

Will Ferrell is a comedy kingpin. His over-the-top, loud, brash, incredibly manly, irreverently funny trademark comedy has become his empire, racking up a series of memorable performances and characters in the process.

Does he have a comedy equal? Just like Ron Burgundy, he'd probably tell you "no", but that hasn't stopped him from forming successful "laughnerships" with a range of actors including: Jon Heder, Mark Wahlberg, Zach Galifianakis and reliable sidekick Jon C. Reilly. His latest film, Get Hard, pairs him up with Kevin Hart... a comic actor whose string of hilarious supporting roles is turning him into one of Hollywood's funniest stars.

It seemed inevitable that the two would eventually work together. Unfortunately, while the match seems like a surefire hit on paper with a comedy concept movie like Get Hard's, the result is disappointing. Get Hard centres on James King (Ferrell), a millionaire who finds himself destined for the big house after being convicted of fraud. In order to survive the rigors of prison, he contracts Darnell Lewis (Hart) to help him prepare for the ordeal, mentally and physically.

Just reading the premise is funny and throwing comedy stalwarts like Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart into the mix seems like a job done. Unfortunately, Get Hard does not equal the sum of its parts. The biggest failing is that it's inconsistent and not as funny as you'd expect. While the co-leads seem to be trying, it's like no one's wanting to take ownership of this off-key comedy.

Will Ferrell is there, often buck naked and navigating some precarious prison scenarios, but seems a bit restrained and not in the moment like we've seen him before. Kevin Hart seems to be tip-toeing around Ferrell not wanting to create a mutiny in the comedy palace and the net result is awkward chemistry. This works in the ramp up as the odd couple find they need each other, but becomes a sore point as the buddies fail to find their stride.

To their credit, it's not easy making on-screen magic when your script and direction keeps you on the back foot. The script seems like the writers were going for an edgy interracial buddy comedy with the same intentions as National Security. As such, they walk a fine line, dipping into inappropriate racial humour and then fudging the line when it comes to prison style sexuality too.

The biggest failing is that you're never sure if they're going for extreme comedy or not, making it a provocative yet underwhelming journey with a recurring joke and so-so delivery. There are moments in Get Hard when you wish director Etan Cohen would've left the camera rolling on the two co-leads, but judging from the lack of bloopers in the credit roll, it seems there wasn't much to laugh about off-screen.

Whether it was just another pay cheque or the film was muzzled, Get Hard doesn't live up to expectations. The naive tone and over-the-top prison preparation routines make it camp and juvenile with the pay off never fully materialising. Get Hard seems determined to avoid comparisons with Let's Go to Prison or Arrested Development, but probably would have benefited from not simply teasing the audience.

It's a stop-start concept comedy, which echoes Semi-Pro and represents a low for the usually in-the-game Ferrell. Etan Cohen doesn't live up to his Tropic Thunder or Idiocracy credits and this lack-lustre project only has a handful of genuinely funny moments among a pile of unimaginative hit-and-misses. It's mostly disappointing because of the talent involved.

The bottom line: Off-key

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