The weekend of March 28 marked the release of Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell’s latest raunchy comedy, “Get Hard,” from first time director Etan Cohen, who some will recognize as one of the creative supervisors behind the animated TV shows “Beavis and Butt-Head” and “King of the Hill.” He’s also notorious as a Hollywood writer for penning scripts such as “Idiocracy” (2006), “Tropic Thunder” (2008), and “Men and Black 3” (2012).
In “Get Hard,” Ferrell plays an absent-minded, carefree financial trader named James King who unexpectedly finds himself on the ugly side of an investment fraud that’s no laughing matter. King is quick to make his innocence known, but instead faces an upcoming prison sentence in a maximum-security jail. With little alternatives to choose from, and the looming intimidation of prison life that sits before him, King goes to the one man who he knows will be able to toughen him up, Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart), the guy who offers car cleaning services at King’s local car wash.
Comedies like “Step Brothers” and “Ride Along” often feel as if the scenes are being improved or ad libbed, rather than sticking to a strict script. When asking Hart if the script really mattered when it came to hitting comedic punch lines, he replied, “If we don’t have something funny on the page from the beginning, it’s kind of hard to improve in the first place. You really need a good foundation, and we had a good foundation. And from that foundation, we always feel the need to play with certain areas, but only specifically when we feel it will elevate a scene. We always wanted to get what we had on page first because we feel our writers did a great job on the script. When the right time came to play around with improv, we did.” Hart also admitted to watching one of his favorite shows in preparation for the movie, “I watched a lot ‘Sanford and Son.’ That put me in a position where I was ready to come to set every day and bring something to the table.” Ferrell jumped, commenting sarcastically with the dry statement, “I watched a lot of shows on the cooking channel. It didn’t help me at all…In fact, it was total waste of time and if I had to do it over again I wouldn’t have watched those shows.”[pullquote align=”right” speaker=”Will Ferrell”]I think [comedy is] just a great way to explore our differences….We’re able to point out how silly these attitudes are that seem to pop up from time to time. Once you kind of get through the chatter, you see how similar we all are.[/pullquote]
The first screening of “Get Hard” took place at South by Southwest (SXSW), a film and music festival that is usually devoted to small, independent titles. When asked what the atmosphere was like premiering a mainstream, star-studded comedy at the Austin, Tex. location, Hart proclaimed, “I think the atmosphere we had a SXSW was amazing. That was one of the most energetic theater crowds I’ve ever seen. Not only was the reception good to Will and I’s introduction, but staying and watching the movie was unreal. That positive reception lasted all the way through. In Hollywood, it’s just different because it’s what crowds are used to.” Ferrell elaborated, “Hollywood is the town of industry, so to speak, so when you take the film out to really show it amongst even more people, that’s when you get that authentic reaction.”
Ferrell and Hart have also come under fire for critics who perceive the film to carry homophobic and racist overtones. Farrell spoke for himself on why comedy is important when handling some of the serious social tensions “Get Hard” addresses, “I think it’s just a great way to explore our differences. Examining that through the filter of comedy, where we’re able to point out how silly these attitudes are that seem to pop up from time to time. Once you kind of get through the chatter, you see how similar we all are.” Hart felt he couldn’t say it any better than that. When asked what a common misconception about the prison system they’d learned after making the film, Ferrell responded, “I don’t even know if there are any misconceptions about prisons. I think the misconception would be that there’s any ‘nice’ part of prison.” So now that he’s been through “prison training,” can Ferrell really withstand the many harsh threats of jail? What role would he take on if he had to go? Ferrell responded in a tongue-in-cheek tone, “I unfortunately don’t feel any more qualified or confident that I would survive in prison… My best strategy would be to not go. I don’t know what role I’d take on. I’d just have to act crazy to keep people away from me, but they’ve seen that before.”
“Get Hard” opened on March 27 and is now playing in theaters nationwide.
Rob Gabe is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at RG770214@wcupa.edu.