Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Get Hard

Year 8, Day 313 - 11/8/16 - Movie #2,483

BEFORE: I watched this as the election returns came in on Wednesday night, and I think I'd be a little more vocal about my disappointment in the outcome, but I've got to be careful now, you never know who's listening, and taking down names.  There is historical precedent for this, but you've got to look at the election of 1932, only not in America, if you feel me.  

Seriously, I stood in the office on Monday and I predicted a repeat of the 2000 election, even though some of the kids I work with are probably too young to remember that one.  The tight popular vote, the recounts, the court challenges, the weeks of not knowing who the President was going to be.  The butterfly ballots, the hanging chads (I had to explain what those things were...)  Even though the polls gave Clinton a 75% chance of victory, I was the one saying that it was going to be close, like stay-up-all-night year 2000 close.  Like "the Supreme Court has to step in here" close. 

That being said, I don't know why this all had to be decided overnight.  Back in the day, it took weeks for results to come in from all of the different states, of course they had to be delivered on horseback, but that's how they did it.  I don't know why Clinton conceded when she did, before any recounts or any challenges could be filed - my gut tells me that Trump made up the story about getting a concession call, just another lie in a campaign full of lies, and Clinton's just too tired to challenge.  But it is what it is.  

So we've got a president who lost the popular vote by a slim margin, but squeaked out a win in the Electoral College.  Yep, that's 2000 all over again, and we survived the Bush presidency (barely) but depending on where you stand, I'm left feeling like it's all going to get worse before it gets better.  Personally I don't understand the need to fix a system that wasn't all that broke to begin with, or the desire to hire a completely unexperienced person to do a job.  When you need something fixed in your house, do you go and seek out a contractor who has no idea what he's doing, or the person who's done this before and has a proven track record.  

And if you think "the system is rigged" or "the electoral college doesn't work right", well, that's a debatable point.  But you know as well as I do that nothing about the system is going to change, it's like a leaky roof - you only realize it needs to be fixed when it's raining, but when the sun is shining, you're much less motivated to get up there and fix it.  So in four years we'll be back in this same spot, where nobody came up with a better system, a better method of casting ballots, or a foolproof method of counting votes.  

I had my fun on Election Day, I happened to be carrying a tote bag because I was on my way to pick up some animation art from a gallery, so I told the workers at my polling station that the bag was to hold all the free stuff I was going to get when I voted.  (I had to tell them I was kidding, then they appreciated the humor...)  Most people just take this stuff way too seriously - however, the stupid 11,000 hipster douchebags who wasted their votes on a dead gorilla, well, they just weren't taking it seriously enough.  You want to know why I hate hipsters?  This is why, their jokes just aren't funny.

Will Ferrell carries over from "Zoolander 2", and since I watched this film in-between election results, I think this is the kind of comic material we're all going to need more of in the days ahead.

THE PLOT: When millionaire James King is jailed for fraud and bound for San Quentin, he turns to Darnell Lewis to prep him to go behind bars.

AFTER: A lot of comedy derives from juxtaposition, putting this thing next to THAT thing, and then pointing out how different they are.  Abbott/Costello and Laurel/Hardy are some of the early film examples - let's get one fat guy and one skinny guy together, and they'll have opposing personalities, which creates conflict, and ultimately, humor.  The formula is still in place today, in films like "The Heat" and "Hitch", among many others.  

If you want to extend the difference along a racial line, and not venture into "Miami Vice" or "Lethal Weapon" territory, then you land on something like "Get Hard" - which probably owes its greatest debt to "Trading Places", and the plots are even a little similar, with a rich white guy taking a fall from the world of stock-market trading.  But while Dan Aykroyd's character was merely stripped of his assets and thrown into the street, Will Ferrell's character here is looking at serving hard time in San Quentin.  

He then seeks out the only African-American person he knows, Darnell - the guy who washes his car, because he naturally assumes that Darnell has served time.  He hasn't, but just like any other hard-working American, he needs money and he sees an opportunity.  So there's a larger social importance here, the film keenly points out the existence of two Americas - the one with clueless white people living in their McMansions, making uneducated assumptions about minorities, and then the day-to-day world of the struggling middle class.  Hey, who knew I could find a way to tie this one in to the election?

Though there's way too much focus on the scatalogical here - it's based on some very biased assumptions about what goes on behind bars between two men.  And the vast majority of this is judgmental - the automatic assumption that all gay sex is bad or unpleasant is particularly egregious.  Maybe it's like a food you haven't tried before - how do you KNOW you won't like it, unless you try it?  But no, let's just assume that all prison sex is non-consensual and all man-on-man action is to be avoided, for the sake of a joke.  After a year or two in prison, maybe for anyone, all bets would be off, that's all I'm saying.  We just put a man with a terrible track record on gay rights into the vice-presidency (which, according to Trump, puts that man in charge of all domestic policy...) so we really should examine humor like this and determine whether it does more harm than good.  

But beyond that, putting Will Ferrell in situations where he seeks out protection, first from a White Supremacist biker gang, and then from a black street gang, is comedy gold - even though it's like picking low-hanging fruit.  And it took way too long for Ferrell's character to realize who was really responsible for his situation, and to start to fight back.  The whole situation could have been avoided if his character had been a little less clueless, but of course, it's funny that he was so out of touch with reality for so long.  

And the main message of the film is that you may have a period of time coming up for which you must get tough, if you're going to endure it and come out intact on the other side.  And for that reason alone, watching this could not have been more timely. 

Also starring Kevin Hart (last seen in "Grudge Match"), Craig T. Nelson (last seen in "The Family Stone"), Alison Brie (last heard in "The Lego Movie"), Edwina Findley Dickerson (last seen in "Red Tails"), Greg Germann (last seen in "Here Comes the Boom"), T.I. (last seen in "Ant-Man"), Ron Funches, Dan Bakkedahl (last seen in "This Is 40"), Matt Walsh (last seen in "Ghostbusters"), Paul Ben-Victor, with cameos from John Mayer, Jimmy Fallon (last seen in "Jurassic World").

RATING: 5 out of 10 shivs

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