Get Hard: Failing cultural sensitivity tests

Things would have been better off if Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell teamed up to develop a remake of the classic Eddie Murphy-Dan Aykroyd comedy “Trading Places.”

It’s the direction that their latest film, the double-entendre heavy “Get Hard,” heads down and the part of the raunchy comedy that actually works.

Aside from some gratuitous rear nudity from Ferrell to “set the mood,” the first 20 minutes of “Get Hard” is actually inspired comedy, filled with thoughtful, well-conceived jokes that skirt the outside edges of decent taste without outright jumping the shark.

Once the plot really takes shape and a straight-laced Hart has to fake a prison record to help a frightened Ferrell prepare for jail time, things go from funny to sad in short order.

There’s no reason for most of what ensues, as every racial stereotype under the sun is broadly reinforced in highly amateurish ways.

For every five failed attempts at humor — most notably Hart’s lazy attempts to give Ferrell permission to call him the N-word — there’s a single smart sequence, like when Hart tells Ferrell the story of how he went to prison by stealing the plot line of “Boyz N The Hood.”

Hart’s character, a self-proclaimed “Cliff Huxtable”-type African American working man, is nothing more than the racial stereotypes that Ferrell’s character believes him to be. Increasingly, Hart has become reliant on debasing and reinforcing these stereotypes in pursuit of the almighty dollar, countermanding all the work films like “Selma” do to advance African American cinema.

Worse than the culturally-insensitive racial overtones of “Get Hard” is the incessant homophobic double entendre that pervade the film.

Because the film assumes the notion that the only way to survive prison is to endure constant male-on-male rape, Ferrell subjects himself to countless “preparations” for this stereotypical “don’t drop the soap” culture.

“Get Hard” features more jokes about “keistering” items up a man’s backside than any film that has been released in the past five years and also crosses the boundaries of shock comedy in a bathroom sequence where Ferrell wipes his face down exposed male genitalia.

It’s important to note all this “comedy” in specifics to reinforce the notion that potential moviegoers, especially parents of teenagers, need to do the appropriate amount of research about a movie before heading to the theaters.

Somewhere within “Get Hard” is a clever and thoughtful film that attempts to bring Ferrell’s stagnant comedic persona back to life.

However, “Get Hard” softens in the middle, unveiling a seedy underbelly that will likely disappoint more casual filmgoers.

If gross out comedies are your thing, “Get Hard” is exactly what you’re looking for in theaters this week. If not, you might want to pop in a copy of “Trading Places” instead.

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