A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the "hard R" Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart comedy Get Hard, while absolutely crude and over the top, seems to want to give viewers the chance to question their own biases. But it does so by relying on lots of existing stereotypes based on race, gender, and sexual preference (the gang-banger, the materialistic Daddy's girl, etc.), which detracts from its effectiveness. Expect some violence (shooting, fighting, an all-out brawl) played for laughs, shock-value nudity (including a brief flash of a penis), other sexy scenes (lingerie, twerking, implied oral sex), lots of swearing ("f--k," the "N" word, and more), drinking, and pot use.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Hedge fund whiz James (Will Ferrell) is at the top of his game: In one workday, he'll make more than $20 million for his company's founder, Martin (Craig T. Nelson), who also happens to be the father of James' fiancée (Alison Brie). But when the FBI arrests James for supposed embezzlement and fraud -- accusations he vociferously denies -- he has just 30 days to "get hard," i.e. toughen up before he's sent to San Quentin. Enter Darnell (Kevin Hart), the proprietor of the car wash in the parking structure where James leaves his car. Darnell needs $30,000 for a down payment on a house in a safer Los Angeles neighborhood so he can stop worrying about his daughter's safety, so he presents himself as the best "prison coach" for James ... little does James know that his mentor isn't working as hard as he promises to keep James out of jail. Besides, if James didn't misappropriate the funds, who did?
Is it any good?
Good satire has wit and heft, and isn't afraid to poke fun not just at the establishment but also at unexpected targets; the latter half is where GET HARD comes up short. While it deftly roasts mega-wealthy Wall Street types who don't deign to look at (or even remember the names of) the people who work for them, it doesn't push the envelope far enough -- or come up with refreshingly irreverent ways to do so. (That the "help" would be happy to turn the tables on their condescending boss is hardly a surprise.)
And when the movie does make its points, it too often relies on racial, sexist, and homophobic stereotypes that detract from the enjoyment of Ferrell and Hart's winning rapport and infectious glee. The two stars are the best parts of the movie, and they keep things funny enough. It's just too bad they aren't supported by a more interesting script.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the role that stereotypes play in Get Hard. The movie pokes fun at stereotypes, but it also relies on many them for its humor. How does that work? Does it even out? When, if ever, are stereotypes OK?
What is the film trying to say about the wealth gap?
You could argue that a lot of the humor in movies like Get Hard seems intended for shock value. Does that make it more or less funny? Why do you think different groups of people find different things funny?
Is James and Darnell's friendship believable? What does each get out of their relationship?
- In theaters: March 27, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: June 30, 2015
- Cast: Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Alison Brie
- Director: Etan Cohen
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive crude and sexual content and language, some graphic nudity, and drug material