Get Hard, Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart

Patti Perret - © 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

If you're planning to see Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart's Get Hard this weekend, you're probably not expecting a critically-acclaimed cinematic masterpiece.

That said, you very likely are hoping for Anchorman-level laughs...right? If your answer is yes, you might be in luck. Some reviews are hailing this R-rated comedy for its crude laughs, while others are panning it as ignorant and offensive, so it really depends on your sense of humor.

In Get Hard, Ferrell's very wealthy character is falsely convicted of fraud and sentenced to 10 years behind bars. Because of Hart's race, Ferrell incorrectly assumes he has a felonious past, so he begs, "Teach me how to survive in prison the way you did!"

Get Hard

Warner Bros.

Hart's character, who hasn't ever been to jail, plays along with Ferrell's dimwittedness and agrees to prepare him for life as a convict (something he knows nothing about).
As The Concourse's Tim Grierson notes, Get Hard "wants to be a brash, unapologetic look at race and class..." It hones in on "America's anti-1% sentiment," writes Grierson, while it  "willingly barrels headfirst into racial or gender stereotypes."

Grierson acknowledges some critics "have accused Get Hard of being insensitive to its gay and minority characters," but he doesn't think that's the problem. "In all honesty," he writes, "I think it's more guilty of having poor comedic instincts than it is of being genuinely malicious."

The A.V. Club's Jesse Hassenger describes a particular scene with Ferrell "blurring his way through racist rhetoric and Hart throwing himself into the fray." There's comedic potential in the moments where the audience is laughing at Ferrell's character's idiocy—whether he's being racist, homophobic, or some combination of the two. But as Hassenger points out, "it's so muddled in its staging that whatever the punchline is supposed to be, it doesn't land."

Get Hard

Warner Bros.

Still, Hassenger admits that these leading men "are too likable and crowd-pleasing to let the movie collapse around them." And some people are liking Ferrell and Hart together! Richard Corliss of Time took on this unpopular stance, even titling his review, "Don't Tell Anyone, But I kind of Liked Get Hard." As Corliss sees it, Get Hard's "warm heart" allows it to "overcome its rude humor."

Then again, it is pretty darn crass. Variety's Justin Chang slams Get Hard for this (among other things), saying it features "some of the ugliest gay-panic humor to befoul a studio release in recent memory."

As Chang astutely notes, though, none of these types of social critiques "will likely matter a whit to Ferrell and Hart's fan bases, which are probably big enough to keep Get Hard from going too soft commercially."

Get Hard hits theaters Friday.

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