Get Hard Etan Cohen

Get Hard Etan Cohen
5
There are so many funny improvised moments in the supplemental material of the Get Hard Blu-Ray that you begin to wonder how more of them didn't find their way into the actual film. The comedy's best moments showcase its two talented stars, Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, bouncing off each other on comic tangents, but the thin plot amounts to little more than a series of hit-and-miss sketches playing off racial stereotypes that creates satire at its most toothless.

Ferrell's wealthy hedge fund manager James King leads a lavish lifestyle complete with a giant mansion and a beautiful wife (Alison Brie). Her father, Martin (Craig T. Nelson), has just made King a partner at the firm where he works, but the celebration of that occasion is rudely interrupted in the middle of a John Mayer performance when the authorities arrest James for fraud and embezzlement, sentencing him to ten years in San Quentin.

Enter Darnell (Hart), a hard-working hustler who owns a car wash and is looking for some cash to expand his operation and help support his wife and daughter. James mistakenly deduces, based on statistics, that Darnell must have served time in prison because he's a black man and offers him a large sum to help prepare for life on the inside. Of course, Darnell's clean as a whistle, but recognizes an opportunity when he sees one, so he agrees to lend a hand.

It's a promising enough premise, with Ferrell milking plenty of laughs out of portraying his "mini-Madoff" as a pompous ass blinded by his single-minded pursuit of money. Even once Darnell takes the reins and transforms King's mansion into a makeshift prison, the episodic structure yields a handful of funny sequences — Darnell portraying several different characters James may meet in the prison yard, James being forced to pick fights with random people — but they're offset by ones that don't work quite as well. A scene where Darnell takes James to a gay hook-up spot to learn how to give a blowjob, for instance, struggles to find the right comedic angle for the material, and another in which James tries to get in with a white supremacist gang seems like an unnecessary detour.

With so few subplots to help pad the running time, it's really just one training exercise after another, peppered with plenty of jokes about the threat of prison rape. Even the few story developments that are present are telegraphed enough that they seem perfunctory. We know at some point that James will find out that Darnell never really went to prison, just as we know that the two will band together to expose Martin as the real perpetrator of the crimes of which James is being accused.

Aside from the usual assortment of deleted scenes and a short gag reel, the extras include an impressive array of the Line-o-Rama features that have become a staple of most comedy releases these days. A one-on-one interview between Hart and Ferrell shows off the easy camaraderie between the two, while some peeks behind the scenes reveal how Hart suffered through doing his own wirework stunts while nursing a cold. But the best feature may be one on twerking, if only just to hear Craig T. Nelson admit that he's not all that impressed by the act and that it used to be known as "The Dirty Chicken" in his day.


  (Warner)