Will Ferrell's latest comedy about a wealthy white guy who enlists a law-abiding black man to help him prepare for life in prison is proving more controversial than his usual work. With accusations that Get Hard is homophobic and racist, Ferrell defends the flick to the AP, noting he and costar Kevin Hart "show a mirror to what's already existing out there." Do critics agree?
- "Perhaps there's an edgy dark comedy to be made about race, class, and the prospect of facing prison, but Get Hard is not it," Claudia Puig writes at USA Today. The film's "jokes are a cavalcade of racist and homophobic humorlessness." And though its cracks at class divisions perform better, they aren't worth the price of a movie ticket. Her advice: "Unless you're really hard up for entertainment, stay away from this tone-deaf raunchfest."
- It "seeks to make you laugh while also risking offense by going too far. It succeeds on both counts," writes Peter Howell more favorably at the Toronto Star. The film will undoubtedly offend a portion of the audience, but "I enjoyed it because, unlike similar films of its ilk, everybody is in on the joke," he writes: white, black; rich, poor; etc. "It's not great cinema, but it's also not just a scattershot of dumbness and vulgarity." And "Ferrell and Hart make a good team."
- Cary Darling at DFW is less kind. "Since anyone who has seen the trailer has already seen many of the film's best moments, making it through to the end does feel like something of a life sentence," she writes. Excepting a scene in which Hart portrays a black guy, a Latino guy, and a gay black guy within a matter of minutes, the film just doesn't bring the laughs. Instead, it's "weighed down by middle-school jokes."
- At its best, Get Hard "does a smartly scathing job" of attacking privilege and entitlement, writes Ann Hornaday at the Washington Post. At its worst, it "veers perilously close to committing the very sins it aspires to criticize." Particularly, "the movie is drenched in gay panic" and includes "tiresome 'don't drop the soap' jokes," based on Ferrell's character's fears about being raped in prison. At least "Ferrell and Hart have a genial, easygoing chemistry," Hornaday writes.
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