Director: Etan Cohen
Starring: Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Alison Brie, Craig T. Nelson, T.I., Edwina Findley Dickerson
Written by: Etan Cohen, (also story) Jay Martel, Ian Roberts and (story) Adam McKay
Running Time: 100 mins
Release date: 27th March 2015
As this alleged comedy produced another offensive joke about male genitalia, I immediately wanted to watch Stir Crazy, the 1980 comedy starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. The reason being that there was a double act who could be genuinely funny without having to constantly head down the road of lowest common denominator and that the two leads in this utterly offensive nonsense, could have been the new Wilder and Pryor, given better material than they have here.
James King is a wealthy stock broker who has everything: flash car, huge house, gorgeous fiancée and has just been made partner to his boss’s company. Then his world crumbles when he is sentenced to 10 years in prison for fraud. Given 30 days to get his life in order, he fears the worse and asks for advice on how to survive prison life from car wash owner, Darnell. What King doesn’t know is Darnell has never been in prison and that someone has set him up.
You kind of know what you are getting yourself into with this film from its oh-so-funny title. Yes, it’s 100 minutes of jokes about the penis! Along the way we have open racism and homophobia, with a dash of misogyny thrown in for good luck! We are, as it were, in a haven of offensiveness. Which is not only cringing and woefully unfunny but achingly annoying because watching Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart working together, you can see that with the right material, could be magic.
Instead we are constantly reminded that if you go to prison, you will be raped, so in order not to be raped, you have to either pretend to be mad, join a gang to protect you, or just give up and go along with it. We watch, sometimes open jawed, as Ferrell’s wealthy businessman immediately thinks that because Hart is black, he must have spent time in prison. Yet we know that Hart is a straight-laced family guy trying to buy a better life for his wife and kid. But to fulfill the stereotype, he still has family members that are from the wrong side of the tracks.
As Hart shows Ferrell the ropes of life behind bars, it becomes apparent that rape is the only option, so the guys head down to a local gay spot where Ferrell is informed that if he asks to perform fellatio, no one would refuse. Thus we get a very uncomfortable sequence with Ferrell on his knees in a toilet failing to perform the act, which gives him an inner strength.
You seriously wonder if anyone didn’t stop and say, we might have gone too far this time. No one does because it continues and it only get slightly amusing when the two leads, who do have chemistry together, go off script is obvious improvised moments. Then you start to scream: “Do more of that stuff!”
We know that Ferrell, with the right material, is one of the funniest men on-screen at the moment. New kid on the block, Hart, has yet to prove himself and there are scenes here where you can see potential. Yet this shameful excuse of a comedy shouldn’t have even been allowed to be green lit, let alone released to the public.
It does make my heart sink when watching films like this, where talented comics are reduced to delivering stereotypes and tasteless, crude “dick” jokes. If Ferrell and Hart re-team again, then someone needs to sit down and watch Stir Crazy or Silver Streak and see how a comic pairing can be hilarious without ever relying on jokes about being raped. Criminal.