Star – Will Ferrell
Genre – Comedy
Run Time – 100 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Amazon – £ DVD £Blue Ray
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I think it’s fair to say that this comedy film generated a bit of controversy for its racial and gay stereotyping over the summer, so much so that the timid movie and broadsheet press slaughtered it, regardless if they did find it fun or not. How could they do anything else? Its three decades since it was ok to laugh at Bernard Manning. I’m a big fan of Will Ferrell though so thought I would give it a go. To be fair it isn’t his best and not the normal risky direction he goes with his comedies. He has played with racial stereotypes but not in a cynical way he does here. I hope it’s not a new direction in his comedy as he is better and funnier than resorting to cheap jokes at other minority’s expense. The whole project looks a big error by known lefty Ferrell.
• Will Ferrell as James King
• Kevin Hart as Darnell Lewis
• Craig T. Nelson as Martin Clark
• Alison Brie as Alissa Clark
• Edwina Findley as Rita Lewis
• T.I. as Russell
• Shad Gaspard as Big Ass Julian
• Ariana Neal as Makayla Lewis
• Greg Germann as Peter Penny
• Paul Ben-Victor as Gayle
• T.J. Jagodowski as Chris
• Dan Bakkedahl as Leo
• Erick Chavarria as Cecelio
• Jon Eyez as Big Mike
• Nito Larioza as Jaoa
• Ron Funches as Jojo
• John Mayer as himself
• Jimmy Fallon as himself
Millionaire stocks and shares trader James King (Will Ferrell) has just been done for securities fraud and facing jail, arrested at home at his engagement party to Alissa (Alison Brie) and in front of his father-in-law to be (Craig T. Nelson. King claims he didn’t do the crime and pleads not guilty, against his lawyer’s expensive advice and turns down the plea bargain, resulting in 10-years minimum jail time and 30 days to get his affairs in order. His gold digging fiancé can’t wait to get rid of him and get all the cash and his firm ready for life without their best desk trader.
Facing a long stretch in Los Angeles roughest Category A jail he decides to prepare himself for prison to avoid ‘man rape and beastings’ by employing Darnell, the guy (Kevin Hart) who washes and waxes his Bentley, who is bound to have been to jail because he is black and working-class, right? Insulted at first because Darnell has never been to prison he seizes the chance to go along with the rich guy’s crazy scheme to try and get the 30 grand he needs to start a new business. When King agrees the fee the training begins.
The plan is for Darnell to secretly find out about prison life from his gangbanger cousin Russell (I.T) so to prepare the rather spoilt King for incarceration, and with the help of King’s gardeners and staff, turning Kings Mansion into a top security prison with spotlights, cells and guards. Darnell then devises a daily schedule or prison routine and the threats King will have to deal with and how to blend in, like being jumped in the shower by homosexual prisoner men with intent. And so it goes on.
If the Daily Mail were to remake Trading Places then this would probably be it. The established critics hated it and duly slammed it for that homophobia and concurrent racial undertones but, no doubt, secretly giggling at the very same racial and gender stereotyping jokes in private. I did. Some of it is quite funny. I’m afraid prisons are full of black and Latinos in America with an extraordinary one-in-three black American men being incarcerated at some point in their lives. There are is rightful humor to be had there and I’m sure most black guys laughed along with it as its pretty harmless stuff after all. The homophobic edge, on the other hand, just seemed obtuse and schoolboy silly stuff by its presence and not Ferrell’s proudest moment. Gay men are born gay as black men are born black and so can’t defend themselves to this stuff Will.
Ferrell, of course, has a good fan base and one of his lamest comedies to date still made a healthy profit after doing $117million to date from its $40 million budget. If any other comic actor had took on this film it would have sunk without trace. It had Adam Sandler written all over it. Very few comic actor would have got away with this. But fellow Saturday Night Live star Kevin Hart was a bigger enough black name (even though he is only 5.6) to give it the stamp of studio approval, a bit like the way the black cricketers who signed up for the rebel tour of South African cricket tour in the 1980s did. It’s a shame Hollywood feels we have reached that point but it never stood a chance with the righteous broadsheet movie press being all corporate and correct, whether it was going to be any good or not.
On the whole I laughed in all the wrong places and as far as I am concerned gay people tend to create their own camp stereotypes so those stereotypes fair game sometimes and as long as the actors playing those roles were paid well then the critics should have ago at them. The black jokes had been done before and not that funny. What movie doesn’t have matchstick chewing, Glock popping, black hoods in it these days? Everyone is fair game in capitalist America.
Imdb.com – /10.0 (66,307votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 29% critic’s approval
Metacriitc.com – 34 % critic’s approval
Buzzfeed –‘It's all awful enough that you expect the movie to end with a title card that proclaims, "Don't worry, guys - we have gay friends and black friends. We're cool."
Cinema Scene –‘Ferrell has made shaky projects work on pure star power before, but even he seems to have given up on this one. The audience is strongly advised to follow his example’
Memphis Times –‘The movie wallows in stereotypes of race, class and culture, and cranks the male homosexual panic to 11; even so, it is often dumb-funny’.
The San Francisco Times – ‘It isn't anything revelatory, but the cast is charming enough even when dealing with asinine subject matter. There are a few big laughs to be had and it's not a wholly unenjoyable watch’.
Sunonline –‘.Laughter dips aside, this is knowingly cringe-making, politically incorrect fare, from the team that does it best’;
The Mail –‘While it's still deeply ludicrous and embarrassing, you've certainly seen worse’.
The Minneapolis Tribune –‘Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart didn't stop being funny. Their new movie Get Hard is just so bad in so many ways that it may make you think this is true’.
Vox –‘For a movie that wants to send a message about privilege and prejudice, it displays a clumsiness and exemplifies a lot of the ignorance and thoughtlessness it wants to rage against’.