Thanks to a flourishing career as a hedge fund manager, James King (Will Ferrell) is living in the lap of luxury in a sprawling, Bel Air mansion. Furthermore, the pampered multimillionaire’s stock seems about to skyrocket, given his promotion to partner and his impending marriage to the boss’ (Craig T. Nelson) daughter, Alissa (Alison Brie).
By contrast, working man Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) is stuck on the other side of the proverbial tracks in South Central L.A. where he has to worry on a daily basis about the welfare of his wife (Edwina Findley) and young daughter (Ariana Neal). He’s eager to move them out of the ‘hood, but first needs to save $30,000 to secure the mortgage on their dream house.
As a regular patron of a valet car washing service, James has regularly crossed paths with Darnell. Nevertheless, he mistakes him for a mugger the day he’s surprised to see a Black man approach him in the office parking lot.
To add insult to injury, instead of apologizing for the hurtful faux pas, tone deaf James insensitively claims, “I would’ve reacted the same if you were White.” Then, he rubs salt in cash-strapped Darnell’s wounds by suggesting that, “I got to where I am by hard work,” before smugly adding, “Success is a mindset.”
However, the two’s roles are reversed when James is convicted of securities fraud, and sentenced to 10 years in San Quentin. With just a month before he has to report to prison, he asks Darnell to prepare him for life behind bars, based on another unfounded assumption, namely, that he’s an ex-con.
Darnell agrees, charging precisely the $30,000 he needs as a down payment on his ticket out of the ghetto. However, the jokes are all on James, since the supposed “incarceration expert” he’s just hired has never even seen the inside of a jail.
Thus unfolds Get Hard, an unlikely buddy comedy co-starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. The movie marks the noteworthy directorial debut of Etan Cohen, whose successful mix of over-the-top slapstick and subtle social satire yields a cinematic experience as silly as it is thought-provoking.
So, one moment, we might witness goofy, gratuitous nudity courtesy of exhibitionistic Ferrell who has never been shy about prancing around in his birthday suit, his Rubenesque physique notwithstanding. The next, we’re treated to relatively-sophisticated humor such as the musings of a spoiled rich kid boasting about how he built his company with his own two hands, before also admitting that he had actually relied upon an $8,000,000 loan from his father as seed money.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for full-frontal male nudity, drug use, ethnic slurs, and pervasive profanity, sexuality and crude humor
Running time: 100 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures