REVIEW: Get Hard

7 04 2015

To be fair to writer/director Etan Coen, I did enter “Get Hard” with knives at the ready to draw.  I am currently enrolled in a sociology course on race and ethnic relations, and a film that appeared chock full of vast generalizations seemed like a great potential paper topic for unit focusing on explanations for enduring racial inequality.  Because of that, I perversely did not leave the movie disappointed.

“Get Hard” is not actively, avowedly racist, although Coen does perpetuate some troubling stereotypes.  He can try to hide the film under the protection of satire and exaggeration, yet those labels hardly excuses the underpinnings and assumptions that come with wading into such territory.

Not to mention, he also tries to turn topics of concern into an invitation for laughter. Making an educated guess that a black man has been to jail, as Will Ferrell’s James does, based on their disproportionate rates of incarceration is a sad truth.  It ought to inspire genuine reflection, not a quick giggle.

But the only cause for concern in “Get Hard” is gay panic.  Everyone in the film seems to be in agreement that any sort of oral or anal sex is a punishment infinitely worse than systemic racism (never mind that any heterosexual person could engage in either act).  The homophobia that runs rampant through the movie made me wonder if the script was secretly written by Dr. Ben Carson, the Republican presidential hopeful who uses prison as an example for why homosexuality is a choice.

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F.I.L.M. of the Week (December 17, 2010)

17 12 2010

There’s no place like home for the holidays … unless its the home of your boyfriend’s overbearing family.

Such is Christmas for Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker) in the “F.I.L.M. of the Week,” Thomas Bezucha’s “The Family Stone,” a winter dramedy with a perfect balance between the two genres.  It’s enjoyable to watch at any time of the year, but it has a particularly warm and loving embrace around the holiday season.  With a fantastic ensemble and pitch-perfect writing, this movie has been a favorite of mine ever since it hit theaters five years ago today.  (And yes, I was there to see it on its first showtime that day.)

It’s always tough meeting the potential in-laws, and the uptight Meredith doesn’t leave the best first impression as she tries to simultaneously be herself and be charming.  The odds are against stacked against the potential new addition to the Stone family as Amy (Rachel McAdams) has it in for her after a dinner in New York didn’t exactly endear her to the incessantly blabbering throat-clearer Meredith.  The tension is only heightened by matriarch Sybill (Diane Keaton), determined not to give her mother’s wedding ring to Everett (Dermot Mulroney) for him to put on Meredith’s finger.

Yet not everyone is determined to see her demise: the fun-loving prodigal son Ben (Luke Wilson) does his best to bring out the welcome wagon, and the ever-reasonable father Kelly (Craig T. Nelson) is determined to give her a chance.  But after a day, Meredith mixes with the Stone family like oil mixes with water, and things go haywire as the holiday spirit combines with mean spirits.  The result is a hilariously potent comedy about the importance of family, both the ones we are born into and the ones we create.

I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t mention the heavier side of the movie.  Much of what happens in “The Family Stone” is due to an unpleasant truth about the future of a member of the Stone family, and it had been quietly kept secret until Meredith arrives.  The movie is not only a comedy but also a deeply touching and heartfelt look at our families and how much we value each member of them.  Around the holidays, there’s simply nothing better than a movie that can make you laugh and cry with the people you love the most.





REVIEW: The Proposal

8 08 2009

I hate re-runs, so I will spare you my rant on the predictable nature of the romantic comedy.  And although it is caught up in some typical clichés, “The Proposal” manages to succeed in spite of them.  The movie provides decent fun for all, offering many solid laughs.  Sandra Bullock makes a welcome return to the genre where she belongs, and she has great chemistry with Ryan Reynolds, who is surely headed for Hollywood superstardom.  The way that they are able to play off of each other’s energy is really what makes the movie work.

Margaret Tate (Bullock) is an uptight book editor who treats her workers like garbage, especially her dedicated assistant Andrew Paxton (Reynolds), who has aspirations to inspire people with his own writing.  But Margaret has a problem: she has put off her immigration lawyer in favor of her work so many times that her application to renew her visa is denied.  To avoid deportation, she forces Andrew to marry her on the threat of ruining his career.  After three years of being Margaret’s assistant, Andrew knows everything about her.  She, of course, knows nothing about him.  To change that, they go to Andrew’s grandmother’s 90th birthday weekend celebration in his home state of Alaska.  Margaret’s big city working girl attitude clashes with the slow small-town attitude of Andrew’s family.  At first, the family is puzzled by his engagement to the woman he loathed.  But eventually, his mother (Mary Steenburgen) and grandmother (Betty White, TV’s “The Golden Girls”) accept it, but his father (Craig T. Nelson) cannot.  As time goes on, Andrew and Margaret begin to open up to each other and realize that there is something different than expected behind their working exteriors. Read the rest of this entry »