Get Hard (2015)

Released: March 27, 2015. Directed by Etan Cohen. Starring Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Alison Brie. Runtime: 1hr, 40 min.

Get Hard might be a rip-off of other films, but it isn’t flaccid.

The Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart comedy borrows elements from 1983’s Trading Places, where the two primary characters come from jarringly different worlds. Ferrell’s James

King is a Harvard-educated millionaire who just made partner at his place of work.

It’s not crystal-clear what he actually does for a living, but all you have to know is that early on the film, he is arrested for multiple counts of fraud and embezzlement and is sentenced to ten years in prison.

An intensely biased judge gives him the harshest possible sentence at San Quentin prison, because white collar citizens like King have been getting away with light pleas for far too long. This is probably the film’s most frustrating and uninspired occurrence.

Anyway, King meets Kevin Hart’s Darnell Lewis and assumes he has went to prison because of his race, perceived lack of education and social standing. He seeks his help in training him in his expertise in surviving prison. Darnell only agrees because of his need for money to buy a new home to get his family out of a dangerous Californian neighborhood.

And of course, he really hasn’t been to prison and has to base his “How to survive prison” tips on black stereotypes and vague advice from his cousin Russell, portrayed by T.I., who has connections in prison with his gang called the Crenshaw Kings.

Darnell means well and he’s just trying to make some money, but these two characters are really in the same boat in how little they know about prison – King is just a bit more ignorant about the subject of prison, and general sensitivity, than Lewis.

I think that’s why the dynamic works – that neither of them know what they’re doing – and allows it to be a bit different than the 2007 Rob Schneider vehicle, Big Stan. Basically, this is a blatant, stereotypical rip-off of that lacklustre film, but it builds on it with a stronger cast and a more interesting story.

Kevin Hart gets a few of the film’s biggest laughs and there about five hilarious scenes. The film’s at its best when it simulates a yard scene where gangs fight over basic ownership of King. It is also quite funny when King tries to get in touch with his hip hop side and adopts the persona of Mayo.

Ferrell is good, if sporadically awkward. He was better in 2010’s The Other Guys as his soft Allen Gamble, at one point stepping into the role of a pimp called Gator. The character in that film is funnier and better developed, though Ferrell does have his moments as a character reviled by many, especially his at-home helpers.

King’s bank accounts are frozen, and the only reason they stay behind to still work for him is to get back at him for the general mistreatment. King does deserve some empathy for his entire life being turned upside down, and losing an incredibly sexy fiancé portrayed by Community’s Alison Brie, whose shallowness is portrayed by her being more upset by a ruined party than her fiancé being arrested.

To be fair, that party did have John Mayer in a mildly amusing cameo, where he goes on live television to sing about the monstrous King potentially getting sexually assaulted in San Quentin. If that doesn’t convince you to at least rent it, I don’t think anything will.

2.5 stars

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The Animal (2001)

Animal, TheReleased: June 1, 2001. Directed by: Luke Greenfield. Starring: Rob Schneider, Colleen Haskell, John C. McGinley. Runtime: 84 min.

After receiving organ transplants from various animal donors, a man finds himself taking on the traits of those animals.

“The Animal” is every bit as stupid as one might expect from its plot. Suffice to say, if you’re anticipating a criminally stupid movie, you won’t be disappointed. The cast is amusing, the conflicts are inane; one character thinks he can get away with anything because he’s black, and it gets insanely tedious – and it solves conflicts too easily.

There are some funnies. The jokes mainly involve the main character, Marvin (Schneider) who has to deal with his new animal instincts, and the way he deals with them may make you smile. Colleen Haskell of Season 1 of TV’s “Survivor” is attractive, but she’s about as good of an actress as one might expect from a reality TV show star. There’s not a lot notable about “The Animal.” It’s written by Rob Schneider and Tom Brady. Tom Brady the writer/director behind such hits as “The Hot Chick” and “Bucky Larson,” not Brady the New England Patriots quarterback. I wonder if the quarterback could do the writer’s job better?

Like I seem to be saying about all of the films Happy Madison Productions produces, it’s watchable. But watchable only means it’s not the worst way to kill 84 minutes, and it doesn’t do anything for the genre. The film is directed by first-time director Luke Greenfield.

I’ve always wondered why Adam Sandler has never directed a film. I mean, he’s the producer on all of his non-starring gigs, so it surprises me that he’s never directed anything yet. He has a decent vision, I’d say, with everything he writes, so if he’s willing to give a first-time director a chance with this – he could just do it himself. Why not, right? Maybe he’ll even have a minor hit on his hands? It probably wouldn’t hurt the movie he would direct/produce.

Score50/100

Grown Ups (2010)

Grown UpsRelease Date: June 25, 2010Director: Denis DuganStars: Adam Sandler, David Spade, Kevin JamesRuntime: 102 min.

“Grown Ups” doesn’t have the strongest plot; or any evident plotline, for that matter. It’s really just a movie about… Five guys, who sound like they want to grow up, but they’re really just big kids at heart. They’re reuniting after thirty years because of the death of their elementary school basketball coach. They’re lifelong friends. Sandler plays the big-time Hollywood agent, Lenny; Rob Schneider plays Rob Hillard who has an appreciation of ladies in their mid-70s; Kevin James plays Eric Lamonsoff, who has a four-year old who still breast feeds, and a daughter with anger issues; Chris Rock is Kurt McKenzie, the nice husband with a nagging wife; and David Spade is the bachelor, Marcus Higgins. The female actresses are decent, mostly just Salma Hayek and Maya Rudolph. The kids are annoying.

No matter how many times you might watch this movie, you’ll only remember the names of Marcus, Lenny and Lamonsoff. There’s very little character development and plot. They’re mostly just comedians hanging around. There’s no focus on plot or characters, because it just isn’t so important to Sandler. Since the plotline isn’t strong, it honestly feels like it could end at any point. I can forgive that a bit more than other movies, though, because at least it doesn’t fail in every aspect. It is a funny movie. There’s chuckles throughout, and two scenes that are hilarious. Most of the humour is hit-and-miss, however, because the majority of the jokes are predictable. And the balance of comedic talent and big laughs is uneven. The direction is also pretty bad. It feels as if Dennis Dugan wasn’t on set for a week.

This is mostly just a forgettable comedy that doesn’t have a particularly good plot. It’s decent background noise, regardless. This still gets a pass.

Score60/100

Note: As much as this is a guilty pleasure of mine, I don’t think upcoming sequel looks very funny at all. I laugh once during the trailer. 

The Hot Chick (2002)

Released: December 13, 2002Director: Tom BradyStars: Rob Schneider, Rachel McAdams, Anna FarrisRuntime: 104 min.

The Hot Chick is the Freaky Friday of Happy Madison Productions.

Jessica (Rachel McAdams for the first bit of the film, and Schneider for the later part) is a self-absorbed high school prissy female who thinks she’s top dog because she has a jock boyfriend and a great group of friends, but the truth is that she really isn’t overly liked by her general high school. On a regular trip to the mall, she’s attracted to an antique shop by a distant music (probably Adam Sandler’s character playing his drums). There, she finds these ancient earrings that come with a mythic story: A young female princess switched bodies with a peasant by these magical earrings, so she can escape an awful marriage; but what she did not know was that she had to switch them before sunset. Henceforth, she was stuck as a peasant for her life. So that’s the whole myth behind those earrings, and you’re probably thinking – where the heck does Schneider come in? Schneider’s original character is a 30-something career criminal lowlife called Clive. Jess and Clive cross paths when he’s robbing a gas station, and doesn’t make a too-slick getaway. Jessica drops one of her earrings, and at night – ba da bing, ba da boom – they both happen to be wearing the earrings, and they both switch bodies.

Schneider brings his usual antics to the feature. The story and conclusion are mighty predictable and have been done before, but that doesn’t stop it from being entertaining in most areas and endurable in the weaker spots of the flick.

Rachel McAdams was underused in this movie, because in reality she probably got a little bit less than twenty minutes of screen time. There are several memorable scenes offered, and also weak scenes. That’s usually the case with Happy Madison comedies though, because they’re often just comedians doing their antics – and – who needs a plot anyway, right?

An endurable screenplay is offered for us lovers of Sandler’s brand of humour. Granted, there are a lot of weak jokes and just some boring “please make it end” moments, but it makes up for that in scenes of pure comedy, and those are probably followed by a few scenes of mediocrity.

The relationships struck up between some characters are quite predictable. A lot of the characters are one–dimensional, and unlikable. Jessica is a prime example of a one-dimensional character, but she changes with this apparent life-shaping experience of switching bodies with a criminal. A little character development is attempted, it isn’t great, but it’s just okay.

The Hot Chick offers silly characters, and an overly tired premise. Though, it also offers hilarious scenes and entertainment that can be enjoyed over and over, well, until it’s fully worn out. It isn’t my favourite Happy Madison production, but is a great one – and definitely Schneider’s best headlining flick (in relations with Sandler).

Score60/100

Unpolished Review: 50 First Dates

50 First Dates

Release Date: February 13, 2004

Director: Peter Segal

Stars: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider

Runtime: 99 min

Tagline: Imagine having to win over the girl of your dreams… every friggin’ day.

[Note: I wrote this review early on when I wasn’t writing a whole lot for reviews, so I’m calling those an unpolished review, which I’d like to rewrite in the future, I’ll explain it more when I make a category for it. I’m too drained to make a page right now]

It’s actually a pretty good romantic comedy, as far as the standards of Sandler films go (plot-wise).

Adam Sandler plays a ladies’ man named Henry Roth, and wants to change his ways after meeting the wonderful Lucy. What he finds out the next day is that Lucy was in a terrible car accident, which gave her short-term memory loss, where her memories of the day get wiped clean when she wakes up the next morning. Now, Henry must make her fall in love with him every day, if he wants her to stay in his life.

It’s usually very cute, funny and sweet. It isn’t a horrible plot at all, and has some great on-screen chemistry between Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler.

It also stars Sean Astin, Blake Clark and Rob Schneider.

If you’re a fan of Adam Sandler or romantic comedies, check it out. It isn’t bad at all, and is really worth one or more watches.

 75/100