Review – *Viagra Not Included (“Get Hard”)

Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart. A comedy tag team made in Heaven. In this raunchy, racy, racist, and R-rated comedy, these two go at it with such ease and wild abandon that you’ll forget the massive plot holes and terrible inconsistencies in the script. Just enjoy your $15 popcorn and $10 soda and switch your brain off for a raucous comedy laden with enough racial slurs and innuendos to fill up a Mack truck.
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Will Ferrell plays James King, a superficial and wealthy dim bulb, albeit a super-smart investment broker that has somehow gotten himself arrested for embezzlement and tax evasion. Instead of going to a ‘Club Fed’ prison, the judge sentences him to San Quentin for 10 years. His trophy fiancé, Alissa (delicious Alison Brie from Community) can’t believe it; neither can her father (and King’s boss), Martin (Craig T. Nelson).

Fearing for his life inside the Big House, King has only 30 days before he goes in, so in a panic he hires Darnell Lewis (Hart), the firm’s car wash manager. Assuming Darnell went to prison (“because statistically, 1/3 of all black men do”) he’ll pay Darnell $30K if he’ll get him ready for prison life. Normally, Darnell wouldn’t take him up on this outrageous offer, but the truth is, Darnell needs the money to get his family out of South Central L.A. and into a safer neighborhood.

Lying about a past incarceration, Darnell, along with King’s house staff of maids and gardeners, concoct a ludicrous plan to get King ready for prison life. With a countdown clock popping on-screen (15 Days Till Prison! 10 Days Till Prison!), they turn his palatial mansion into a prison war zone complete with barbed wire, prison bars, and a fenced off “prison yard” that used to be his tennis court. There’s fights with total strangers and a disturbing scene at a gay restaurant that involves… uh, never mind.

Adding to the chicanery, Darnell even hooks King up with cousin, Russell (rapper T.I.–excellent), the Crenshaw Knights gang leader, for protection once inside prison. They even try a hook-up with a Nazi gang, but that doesn’t go quite as well. All the while James and Darnell start to bond through all the mischief and soon learn that his arrest was not only planned, but that he was framed! Oh, like you didn’t see that one coming! The silly ending is a mash-up of every fish-out-of-water movie you’ve ever seen, but at least it ties the film up together.

Making his directorial debut is Etan Cohen, with a screenplay by Cohen (who wrote for American Dad and Beavis & Butt-head), Jay Martell, and Ian Roberts. Cohen, as a fledgling director, starts off with a bang here: a film that doesn’t hold back on raunchy jokes or racial slurs, that’s for sure. You have to go in expecting that everyone is going to be offended in this movie. Gays, blacks, whites, Jews, Latinos, etc. Nobody is spared. There’s no question about the chemistry between Ferrell and Hart; it’s contagious and the two play off each other like a modern day Hope and Crosby. Even though the screenplay is sophomoric and dumbed-down, I still laughed out loud at some of the wilder moments.    

Street Smart (1987)
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Remember that old phrase, “Be careful what you wish for”? Well, if ever there was a movie for that phrase, this was it. A pet project of Christopher Reeve during his Superman tenure, he got this movie financed by the Cannon Group only because he agreed do Superman IV: Quest For Peace. His wish was a bad one.
 
Reeve plays magazine reporter Jonathan Fisher who’s in danger of losing his job, so promises to write a hard-hitting story on prostitution to his boss. Problem is, no one on the street will talk to him, so he does the the next best thing: he makes up a story!  Problem solved, right? Wrong! His “true” story is so well-received it puts his career back on track, but the police and a district attorney think his story is about a real-life pimp named Fast Black (Morgan Freeman) who happens to be wanted for murder. Uh-oh!
 
The D.A. starts to pressure Fisher to reveal the identity of the subject of his story, so Fisher must make friends with the real Fast Black (who also thinks the story is about himself) and wants to know everything that Fisher knows… and who tipped him off!
 
Fisher, in WAY over his head, goes out on the streets with Black and is taught the ways of the pimp; nothing is as glamorous as he depicted in his so-called article. Black takes a shine to the newbie and shows him the mean streets and his hard-core, brutal, and even lethal business. Fisher, now in fear for his life, play a deadly game of wits and wills at the same time becoming involved with one of the pimp’s call girls, Punchy (Kathy Baker).
 
With an iffy screenplay by David Freedman and mediocre direction by Jerry Schatzberg, Reeve took a huge chance with this movie and lost at the box office big time. The only one that came out smelling like a rose was Freeman, who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor with both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes, giving his career a major boost. Reeves, on the other hand, strained to be several characters at once in this movie, trying to break free of his Superman persona and lost his focus in doing so.
 
There are some nice gritty scenes of street mayhem and pimp life and, given this was shot in 1987, are not exactly PC today, but it’s a nice showcase for Freeman and the late, great Christopher Reeve and what they were up to back in the day.            
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