Will Ferrell has grown on me over the years, and that means that if he has a new film out, I can usually be persuaded to see it, either on DVD or at the cinema, but usually on DVD. I was late in the game in embracing him, though. I still haven’t seen a lot of his earlier stuff, and I thought that Ron Burgundy was painfully bad. In fact, it wasn’t until The Other Guys (2010) that I thought “Well, OK, maybe I do think he’s funny.” I don’t know why, but I thought that comedy was hysterical, and my opinion held up on a second viewing. (To be honest, I think I loved it primarily because of Mark Wahlberg, and the opening sequence involving The Rock and Samuel L. Jackson.)
I can’t say that I was amped to see that Ferrell had a new comedy, Get Hard. The premise – a hedgefund superstar (Ferrell) is accused of fraud and, after being sentenced to 10 years in San Quinton, seeks out a car wash manager (Kevin Hart) for advice on how to survive being “inside” – isn’t exactly fresh, and I knew that the jokes would be about racial stereotypes, and how to avoid becoming someone’s “bitch” in prison. I also had no experience with Hart as a comedian or actor, so I had no idea what to expect.
From a story by Adam McKay, Jay Martel, and Ian Roberts, and a screenplay by Martle, Roberts, and Etan Cohen, who also directs, Get Hard was infinitely better than I could have ever imagined; on many occasions it had me doubled-over with hysterics. It was slow in getting started – the first 20 minutes or so set up the premise, and there isn’t much that’s funny in that – but once Ferrell and Hart team up for prison lessons, I couldn’t stop laughing. Just in case, you are questioning my reaction, my movie-going partner was laughing right along with me, and the guy sitting next to us was cackling pretty readily. The jokes are a mixture of awkward situations (this is sort of Ferrell’s specialty), a play on racial and even prison stereotypes, and some hilarious physical comedy. Like The Other Guys, this film is also offering a heavy-handed message about how corrupt Wall Street is – even more corrupt than inner city gangs – and this is where it stumbles, temporarily. But I wasn’t bothered by that. I was too busy trying to catch my breath.
If I had to list my favorite parts of the film, I would say that the “your Momma” type of insults generated by Ferrell are the best – I don’t really think I can recreate any of them for you, because they are all very R-rated – the fight sequence is side-splitting craziness; and Hart delivers this flawless, rapid-fire dialogue between three characters that he creates: A Latino gang member, an African-American gang member, and a gay man in prison, that is mesmerizing. Just watching him do the back and forth without missing a step … that alone made me make a mental note to check out more of the diminutive comic’s work. Like I said, I have had absolutely no experience with him as a comedian or actor, so this was an impressive introduction. Ferrell is pretty funny, too, though. I admire him because nothing is off-limits. He happily strips down, makes fun of his size and appearance, and acts an absolute fool if he thinks he can make people laugh. The best comedians are like that, though. Absolutely no fear of looking foolish or bombing in a big way.
I don’t know if my reaction to Get Hard was typical, but I can say that what makes other people laugh and what makes me laugh infrequently intersect. That said, there was a lot of laughing taking place in the cinema, but I don’t think anyone was laughing as embarrassingly as I was. To give you an idea of what makes me laugh, so you can judge whether or not to take my advice and see Get Hard as soon as you can, my Top 10 comedies would probably be Night Shift, The Other Guys, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, The Man With Two Brains, Foul Play, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Zorro: The Gay Blade, The Frisco Kid, Three Amigos, and probably Zoolander. Of course, Ghostbusters, The Breakfast Club, Big, A Fish Called Wanda … those are great, too. I used to see anything starring Goldie Hawn, Chevy Chase, Dudley Moore, Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, John Cleese, and Bill Murray. They are the all-time greats.
In short, Get Hard is one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time – it’s my favorite Ferrell film – and I’m already trying to find a time when I can see it again. I can’t wait to buy it on DVD.
Rating 4.5 stars out of 5