In Etan Cohen’s Get Hard, out this Friday, ridiculously wealthy white asshole James (Will Ferrell) gets framed for Madoff-style investment fraud. Faced with a healthy prison sentence that begins in 30 days, he hires black working guy Darnell (Kevin Hart), who washes cars in his parking garage, to teach him how to survive (read: not get raped) in prison. Oh, the culture clash! Oh, the shenanigans that ensue! You can pretty much set a countdown clock to when hopelessly square James will turn up in the hood, sagging and sporting Locs and spewing street slang. And since Get Hard unspooled at SXSW last week, three questions have swirled around it: Is it racist? Is it homophobic? And if so, is it also …Read More
The SXSW Film Festival will continue through the weekend (albeit mostly with repeat screenings and music-related films, pegged to the concurrent music fest), but your correspondent has returned from Austin, with a belly full of BBQ and a head full of leftover images and snatches of dialogue from the 21 narrative and documentary films I took in over my week in Texas. Here are a few thoughts on each, along with the best and worst films I saw there.
AUSTIN, TX: “So do we like to laugh here at South by Southwest?” asked festival director Janet Pierson in the introduction to Monday night’s premiere of the Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart comedy Get Hard, and the reaction was, unsurprisingly, affirmative. Yet not all festival crowds might react the same way. The common perception of the “film festival movie” is something staid and serious and perhaps even dull: micro-budgeted black-and-white relationship dramas, documentaries on puzzlingly esoteric topics, maybe a coming-of-age-in-the-summer movie with a few mild chuckles. Director Paul Feig announced Sunday night, at the premiere of his comedy Spy, “Film festivals are a very dangerous thing, because we’re comedians and we do comedy, and we tend to be looked at the bastard children of real movies.” But comedy filmmakers — even those like Feig who work with big budgets for big studios — have found an unlikely home at SXSW. “Austin really opens up its heart and just allows us to entertain you,” he explained to the sold-out crowd at the Paramount Theater, which cheered wildly in response.
If you’re not already excited for baseball season (especially because it means spring is finally here!), Will Ferrell is here to …Read More
This week, Olive Films is releasing, for the first time on Blu-ray, The Road to Hong Kong, the last of the seven “Road” buddy comedies starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Hitting theaters a full decade after the penultimate entry, Hong Kong is an occasionally funny and occasionally wheezy bit of business, with one honest-to-God great sequence: an unbilled cameo by Peter Sellers, who strolls into the picture and steals the damn thing outright. Hope and Crosby were early adopters of the kind of inside-joke comedy that yielded such cameos, which became increasingly common in the years that followed; we’ve gathered up some of the funniest in movie …Read More