September 21, 2017

Winnipeg
13° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Satire about race, prison tarnished with too many 'don't drop the soap' jokes

At a recent screening of Get Hard at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, the Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart comedy ran afoul of a few angry audience members who accused director Etan Cohen of making a film that was racist and homophobic.

In fact, it's a modestly entertaining burlesque that might have been more upsetting if it weren't at least somewhat offensive. It adeptly satirizes racism and, less successfully, homophobia.

Remember: this is all within the context of a movie that invites us to laugh at the frequent display of Ferrell's buttocks.

He plays James King, an investment banker who finds himself faced with 10 years of hard time at San Quentin when he is framed for fraud.

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Add a payment method

To read the remaining 414 words of this article.

Pay only 27¢ for others you wish to read.

Hope you enjoyed your trial.

Add a payment method

To read the remaining 414 words of this article.

Pay only 27¢ for others you wish to read.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/3/2015 (909 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

At a recent screening of Get Hard at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, the Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart comedy ran afoul of a few angry audience members who accused director Etan Cohen of making a film that was racist and homophobic.

In fact, it's a modestly entertaining burlesque that might have been more upsetting if it weren't at least somewhat offensive. It adeptly satirizes racism and, less successfully, homophobia.

Warner Will Ferrell raises his Hart-rate: Millionaire James King (Ferrell) prepares for prison by bench-presssing Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart).

WARNER

Warner Will Ferrell raises his Hart-rate: Millionaire James King (Ferrell) prepares for prison by bench-presssing Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart).

Remember: this is all within the context of a movie that invites us to laugh at the frequent display of Ferrell's buttocks.

He plays James King, an investment banker who finds himself faced with 10 years of hard time at San Quentin when he is framed for fraud.

As the date of his incarceration looms nearer, King desperately turns to Darnell Lewis (Hart), the guy who washes his car every day. King is a statistical analyst who knows that one in three black male adults will be incarcerated in his lifetime and he makes the racist assumption that Lewis has done some hard time.

Because Lewis happens to need the $30,000 King is offering, he plays along, and creates a training regimen in King's lush digs that will harden King for prison life.

Of course, Lewis's actual knowledge of prison life is largely culled from movies. (When forced to discuss his own invented criminal past, he hilariously plagiarizes the plot of Boyz n the Hood.)

Before long, however, the two men realize they might be better off trying to prove how King was framed, especially since King's boss, Martin (Craig T. Nelson), is suspiciously dragging his feet in his own investigation into how a stack of documents incriminating King were forged.

The comedy recalls the Eddie Murphy-Dan Aykroyd movie Trading Places, except the satire here isn't as sharp. There are points to be made about racial bias in the justice system and the broken prison system. But this movie tends to get too fixated on King's fear of being raped in prison, and goes too far and too long in trying to wring laughs from his ensuing homosexual panic. (Even assuming Ferrell's character would invite that kind of attention, the idea of sexual assault in prison just isn't as funny as Hollywood seems to insist it is.)

Fortunately, as it turns out, Ferrell and Hart have pretty good comedy chemistry, playing to their strengths.

Ferrell's whole movie comedy career has been a variation on the same theme: Arrogance brought low. But Hart has developed his own winning comic persona. His forte is playing a soft-centred guy hiding under a tough, macho facade, which is pretty much perfect for what's required of him here.

In that, his career as a screen comic may have a longer shelf life than Murphy's. Certainly, he has Murphy's versatility, which he demonstrates in a "prison yard" set up on King's tennis court, where Lewis confronts his student with three different possible characters he would be likely to meet in jail.

Obviously, this is not a movie for the easily offended. No Will Ferrell movie is, with the possible exception of Curious George. And some animal-rights advocates might not even be happy about that.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Randall King.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

History

Updated on Friday, March 27, 2015 at 6:47 AM CDT: Replaces photo, formats fact boxes, changes headline

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.