Some great studio comedies have bowed this week in Austin. And then there was “Get Hard,” a potty-mouthed bromance from director Etan Cohen and starring box office draws Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. The fundamentally silly and definitely offensive premise, in which Ferrell as an entitled white millionaire enlists Hart as a black former convict to prepare him for a ten-year prison term, isn’t the only thing critics and audiences were barely putting up with when the film debuted Monday night.
According to Variety, an audience member reproached the director at the uneasy post-screening Q&A: “‘This film seemed racist as f–.’ Cohen look stunned as he stumbled for an answer about the film’s numerous jokes about African Americans. ‘The truth is, that was a delicate balance to find,’ Cohen said. ‘When we were testing the movie, Ferguson was going on. It was hard to modulate … how far to push it.'”
The bevy of button-pushing gags include Hart impersonating a Hispanic inmate, Ferrell joining a white supremacist group for protection, lots and lots of racial slurs (including the N-word), the inevitable prison rape jokes, Ferrell shoving objects up his ass, going down on a guy and saying it’s disgusting, etc. Alison Brie also steps in as Ferrell’s “cartoonishly materialistic fiancee,” with Craig T. Nelson playing her cash-rich father, in a portrayal that feels sexist.
Monday night, THR wrote: “‘Get Hard’ premiered two hours ago, and it already seems more dated than ‘Trading Places’ — not to mention less savvy about all the subjects it pretends to be addressing while it tries to make us laugh.”
Variety’s Justin Chang added: “If you’re disturbed by white-collar crime, but not quite as disturbed as you are by gay sex, then congratulations: You might possess just the right combo of social conscience and unexamined homophobia needed to fully enjoy ‘Get Hard.'” Meanwhile, The Playlist gave the film a big fat D-.
“Get Hard” opens March 27. Here’s the trailer, for what it’s worth.