Here's a movie premise that you may have heard before: an uptight, corny white man finds a Magical Negro to save him. In this instance, the Magical Negro is called upon to toughen up the corny white man before he goes to prison and suffers a decade of unwanted anal penetration. The movie stars Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, and it begins with Will Ferrell sobbing profusely as Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" plays. Fuck this movie.
Get Hard tries to highlight the reality that there are two very different sides to Los Angeles. The problem is that it does so in the most cartoonish way possible. Ferrell plays James King, a millionaire working in the finance industry, who is engaged to his boss's daughter and is named partner in his firm. Then, dun-dun-dun, he is suddenly arrested for fraud and sentenced to the harshest sentence: 10 years at a maximum security prison. His would-be father-in-law says he will make sure his "investigators" find the real culprit.
I'll leave you one guess on where this predictable ass movie leads you with that "investigation."
Meanwhile, Darnell Lewis, played by Hart, cannot secure a home loan in order to lead his family into a better life, one that doesn't include his young daughter being scanned with a metal detector at her South Central elementary school.
James and Darnell only know each other because Darnell works at the car wash in the garage of James' office building. Before James is convicted, there is a scene where Darnell, in a hoodie, approaches James' car whereupon James begins to scream and cry for help. Once James realizes Darnell is holding his keys though, he assures him he would do the same thing if he was white. Typical white people proverb.
Later, after James finds himself abandoned by his fiancé and Darnell discovers him sleeping in the trunk of his own car, they come up with a mutually beneficial deal: James will be taught how to survive in prison and Darnell will get the $30,000 needed for a down payment on a home.
You know, because, "They fucking in San Quinton. Everyone gets the dick."
The "hilarity" of it all is that Darnel knows absolutely nothing about prison. He is not one of those kind of blacks; he's just black. James merely stereotyped him. How funny.
This recalls a piece Jazmine Hughes wrote for The New Republic and discussed on the "Another Round" podcast on the problem with white people poking fun at themselves. In theory, self-deprecation is good, but there are levels, not to mention a certain level of self-awareness required in order to make such attempts not come off irritating as hell. This movie does not have such awareness.
What good is poking fun at racial stereotyping if you have to rely on so many of those same damn stereotypes to tell a story?
To that end, fuck this movie.
Yes, "White People Be Like" James, but white people also enjoy financing bullshit movies like this. It gives a wink to white idiocy while continuing to perpetuate falsehoods about black people without any real challenge to the status quo.
Like when James assumes Darnell is an inmate because one in three black men will face imprisonment in their lifetime. Sure, but while there are not nearly enough white crooked finance guys serving time, he had to have known of a few. Why not call them?
There is also a scene with T.I. and gang members that comes across as if it was written by a middle-aged white man who only knows black people from movies like Dangerous Minds.
Darnell also gives James permission to use "the N-word." I typed that sentence with one hand and waved my middle finger with the other.
In addition to being casually racist in theme, Get Hard is also wildly homophobic. Sexual assault in prison is a real issue—so much so that prisons are now releasing PSAs about it to inmates—but how much longer is being someone's "bitch" going to deemed comedy material? If Get Hard is any indication, forever. I have a headache just thinking about it.
There is one scene where Darnell acts out a potential love triangle where he plays both an effeminate man and a solidly stereotypical Latino man vying for James' attention. Are tried caricatures funny? The Get Hard team seems to think so. I am not ultra politically correct, but this all seems antiquated. And corny.
Finally, there's a scene where Darnell tells James that he should learn how to suck dick. He does so to "hilarious" failure. Before the big fail, they insult each other about being gay because apparently being gay is insulting.
Of course, gay people are depicted as "sassy" with high pitched voices. What other kind of gay men are there?
When asked about whether the movie was homophobic, Kevin Hart said, "I said to myself, 'Funny is funny.' And at the end of the day, funny is funny regardless of what area it's coming from."
What an interesting comment for a black man to make. Ferrell echoed his sentiments, saying R-rated movies are supposed to provoke, blah, blah, blah. Ferrell's producing partner and producer of Get Hard, Adam McKay, called criticisms of his film “disheartening” that made him “mad.”
He'll get over it as I will have to get over the minutes of my life wasted watching this shitshow. Again, fuck this movie. Beyond the racism and the homophobia, it's just terrible. Fittingly, as I was leaving the theater, I noticed an older man had already fallen asleep by the end of Get Hard.
He has no idea how lucky he was.