By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
On my fourth night of SXSW, this screening began uproariously as director Etan Cohen and stars Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell took the stage of the Paramount Theater to introduce their film. Some bass thumping hip hop music cued the emergence of the director and his lead actors and got the crowd cheering and moving in their seats. Ferrell stepped out with a modern boom box adorning his shoulder and the exuberant Hart danced along. The energy was undeniable getting the audience ready for a wild and exciting comedy. While the introduction got everyone pumped, the movie itself left the audience with mixed feelings. As for myself, I found Cohen’s comedy fun and silly, but could understand why some people left the theater either annoyed or even offended.
Ferrell stars as James King, a brilliant and wealthy businessman and Hart as Darrell Lewis, a struggling car wash owner. When King gets framed for illegal business practices, everyone he considers near and dear to him abandons him during his time of need. Facing a frightening stint in a maximum security prison, James desperately seeks the help of Darrell, a man he incorrectly perceives to be a hardened criminal. Desperately needing money to save his business and provide the best for his family, Darrell reluctantly agrees to teach the skills he needs to survive his sentence.
Cohen’s comedy may not be all that plausible, but the crazy, wild and unfiltered jokes had me laughing often and usually heartily. Written by Jay Martel, Ian Roberts, and Adam McKay, not all of the jokes succeed and both Ferrell and Hart’s tendencies to go over-the-top.with their improvisations do run some gags into the ground. The content is often puerile and sophomoric and Cohen and his comedians do push the envelope a bit when it comes to racial and homosexual stereotypes. Apparently, some audience members were left offended by some of the gags, and voiced their opinions during the Q&A session after the film. All of the jokes play out rather ludicrously that I found it difficult to take any of the gags seriously. In fact much of the jokes involving stereotypes serve to dispel some of the myths.
Stereotypes of races, ethnic groups. or any group of people can touch some sensitive nerves. Still, if any group of people can’t laugh at absurd perceptions of themselves, how can they learn to rise above this. Regardless of my opinion on this issue, I feel the movie will never be a major thorn to the advancement and acceptance of any people. This wild and goofy comedy is hardly a brilliant treatise on human relations. Though pretty sharp and smart in its delivery of comedy, it simply offers fun entertainment. Judging from the audience’s response during the screening, not everyone left the theater upset. The multiple occasions of laughter indicates that a lot of people had fun; therefore, the film succeeds in delivering a good time.