Warner Brothers Pictures
Rated R for full-frontal male nudity, drug use, ethnic slurs, and pervasive profanity, sexuality and crude humor
Will Ferrell And Kevin Hart Co-Star In Unlikely-Buddies Comedy
Thanks to a flourishing career as a hedge fund manager, James King (Will Ferrell) is living in the lap of luxury in a sprawling, Bel Air mansion. Furthermore, the pampered multimillionaire’s stock seems about to skyrocket, given his promotion to partner and his impending marriage to the boss’ (Craig T. Nelson) daughter, Alissa (Alison Brie).
By contrast, working man Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) is stuck on the other side of the proverbial tracks in South Central L.A. where he has to worry on a daily basis about the welfare of his wife (Edwina Findley) and young daughter (Ariana Neal). He’s eager to move them out of the ‘hood, but first needs to save $30,000 to secure the mortgage on their dream house.
As a regular patron of a valet car washing service, James has regularly crossed-paths with Darnell. Nevertheless, he mistakes him for a mugger the day he’s surprised to see a black man approach him in the office parking lot.
To add insult to injury, instead of apologizing for the hurtful faux pas, tone deaf James insensitively claims, “I would’ve reacted the same, if you were white.” Then, he rubs salt in cash-strapped Darnell’s wounds by suggesting that, “I got to where I am by hard work,” before smugly adding, “Success is a mindset.”
However, the two’s roles are reversed when James is convicted of securities fraud, and sentenced to 10 years in San Quentin. With just a month before he has to report to prison, he asks Darnell to prepare him for life behind bars, based on another unfounded assumption, namely, that he’s an ex-con.
Darnell agrees, charging precisely the $30,000 he needs as a down payment on his ticket out of the ghetto. However, the jokes are all on James, since the supposed “incarceration expert” he’s just hired has never even seen the inside of a jail.
Thus unfolds Get Hard, an unlikely-buddies comedy co-starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. The movie marks the noteworthy directorial debut of Etan Cohen, whose successful mix of over-the-top slapstick and subtle social satire yields a cinematic experience as silly as it is thought-provoking.
So, one moment, we might witness goofy, gratuitous nudity courtesy of exhibitionistic Ferrell who has never been shy about prancing around in his birthday suit, his Rubenesque physique notwithstanding. The next, we’re treated to relatively-sophisticated humor such as the musings of a spoiled rich kid boasting about how he built his company with his own two hands, before also admitting that he had actually relied upon an $8,000,000 loan from his father as seed money.
Provided you’re open to politically-incorrect fare ranging from racist to misogynistic to homophobic, you’re likely to enjoy this inspired pairing of the relentlessly absurd Ferrell and the motor-mouthed Hart at the top of their games.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 100 minutes
Open Road Films
Rated R for profanity, sexuality and graphic violence
Sean Penn Matches Wits With Worthy Adversaries In Action-Packed Cat-And-Mouse Thriller
Pierre Morel’s riveting revenge thriller Taken made over veteran thespian Liam Neeson into an action star at 55. Now, the clever French director is ostensibly attempting to repeat the trick for Sean Penn, who turns the same age later this year. In The Gunman, Penn plays Jim Terrier, a hit man for hire surreptitiously operating in the Congo while posing as a bodyguard for a healthcare clinic.
The story’s point of departure is 2006, where we find him serving as a sniper on a team of assassins hatching an elaborate plan to assassinate the country’s Minister of Mining. After pulling it off without a hitch, Jim leaves the country uneventfully before vanishing into the ether, but not before asking a friend, Felix (Javier Bardem), to take care of his gorgeous girlfriend, Annie (Jasmine Trinca), a doctor also working for with the NGO.
Fast-forward eight years and Jim returns to the Congo only to barely survive an ambush by a trio of goons. Since it’s clear that his cover must have been blown by a confederate, the startled spy abandons Africa for England to determine exactly who wants him dead. He comes out of the proverbial cold in London to confront Terry Cox (Mark Rylance), an ex-partner in crime who claims to have retired his Kevlar vest for a cushy corporate job.
Terry suggests the man Jim might be looking for is Felix, since the duplicitous backstabber married Annie in Jim’s absence. So, our jilted hero’s next port-of-call is Barcelona, the city where the cozy couple has settled down to live high on the hog.
This contentious state of affairs jumpstarts The Gunman, a cat-and-mouse caper that telegraphs its punches while featuring a dizzying mix of fisticuffs, gunplay, international intrigue and old-fashioned romance. The picture is perfectly passable as an action genre offering, yet pales in comparison to Taken, between its Swiss cheese plot and a plethora of distracting sidebars which tend to undercut rather than amp up the tension.
For instance, Idris Elba arrives onscreen late in the adventure in a red herring of a role as an inscrutable Interpol Agent. Equally wasted is Ray Winstone as a cockney-accented, former co-conspirator of Jim’s. Basically, The Gunman boils down to a Sean Penn vehicle affording the surprisingly-buff (if long in the tooth) matinee idol ample opportunities to put his pecs on display in high-impact fight sequences as well as lingering love scenes.
Good (2 stars)
In English and Spanish with subtitles
Running time: 115 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening March 27, 2015
Home (PG for mild action and rude humor) Animated adventure about a huggable fugitive from a distant planet (Jim Parsons) who forges an unlikely friendship with an innocent, young Earthling (Rihanna) on a quest of her own. Voice cast includes Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez and Matt Jones.
Apartment Troubles (Unrated) American Dream dramedy about a couple of Bohemian artist roommates (Jess Weixler and Jennifer Prediger) on the verge of eviction who relocate from Greenwich Village to L.A. to take a shot at fame and fortune. With Megan Mullally, Will Forte, Jeffrey Tambor and Lance Bass.
The Kidnapping Of Michel Houellebecq (Unrated) Author Michel Houellebecq plays himself in this crime dramedy revolving around a writer abducted and held for ransom by a hapless gang of inept amateurs. Ensemble cast includes Mathieu Nicourt, Maxime Lefrancois and Francoise Lebrun. (In French and Polish with subtitles)
Man From Reno (Unrated) Neo-noir revolving around a Japanese crime writer (Ayako Fujitani) who becomes embroiled in a real-life murder mystery while vacationing in San Francisco when she impulsively embarks on a love affair with a stranger (Kazuki Kitamura). With Pepe Serna, Yasuyo Shiba and Hiroshi Watanabe. (In English and Japanese to subtitles)
Nightlight (R for violence, sexual references and pervasive profanity) Horror flick about five teens who, against their better judgment, decide to party in a mysterious forest notorious as a place where kids commit suicide. Co-starring Shelby Young, Chloe Bridges, Carter Jenkins, Mitch Hewer, Taylor Murphy and Kyle Fain.
The Riot Club (R for profanity, violence, disturbing behavior, sexuality, nudity and drug use) Screen adaptation of Posh, Laura Wade’s play chronicling the exploits of a couple of Oxford University freshmen (Sam Claflin and Max Irons) pledging a hedonistic eating club catering to party animals from privileged backgrounds. With Thomas Arnold, Harry Lloyd and Amber Anderson.
The Salt Of The Earth (PG-13 for nudity, mature themes and disturbing images of violence and suffering) Oscar-nominated documentary featuring changes in people and the planet as captured over the past 40 years by peripatetic photographer Sebastiao Salgado. (In French, Portuguese and English with subtitles)
Serena (R for violence and sexuality) Jennifer Lawrence stars in the title role of this costume drama, set in the ’20s, as a Southern belle whose marriage to a North Carolina timber magnate (Bradley Cooper) unravels after she uncovers a big secret about her hubby’s hidden past. With Toby Jones, Rhys Ifans and David Dencik.
While We’re Young (R for profanity) Midlife crisis comedy about a childless married couple in their mid-40s (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) whose relationship ends up in crisis after they befriend a much younger couple (Amanda Seyfried and Adam Driver). Cast includes Charles Grodin, Maria Dizzia and Dree Hemingway (Ernest’s great-granddaughter).
White God (R for violence, profanity and bloody images) Man’s best friend drama, set in Hungary, about a devastated 13-year-old’s (Zsofia Psotta) relentless search for her dog after her father (Sandor Zsoter) set the pet free on the streets of Budapest. With Lili Horvath, Lili Monori and Tomas Polgar. (In Hungarian and English with subtitles)