Kevin Hart’s performance in Get Hard proves that he is no Eddie Murphy, and is instead creating a legacy of his own.
The great Eddie Murphy made his his now-storied mark on comedy by hitting stand-up stages, decked out in leather, with lewd jokes in tow. He also stained the history books by becoming one of the greatest cast members on Saturday Night Live, paving the way for the likes of Chris Rock. And when he played on-screen sidekick to Dan Aykroyd in Trading Places and Nick Nolte in 48 Hrs., he was not to be upstaged.
Kevin Hart, who serves as a modern-day reminiscence of the ghosts of comedic legend’s past, is notably upstaged by his co-star Will Ferrell in his latest offering Get Hard. But this is no subtraction from his own comedic genius.
To be fair, there is something side-splittingly funny about a 47-year-old white man – who towers over Hart at a whopping 6’3” – dressing like Lil Wayne in a Trukfit shirt and an orange bubble vest. There is also something tear-inducing about said man chilling in the trap house with T.I., drinking 40-ounce malt liquor and being initiated into a Crenshaw gang under the moniker “Mayo.” And if you factor in that this man gets his ass kicked, attempts to give another man fellatio and can’t put his curse words in the right order, it is almost impossible to outshine that amount of hilarity. So instead, Kevin Hart makes it all possible.
Starring as the punk-masquerading-as-a-convict, Darnell, Hart plays the background to Ferrell’s unsuspecting millionaire-turned-jail-candidate James. Though not as rambunctious on the surface as Ferrell, Hart’s understated accent serves as the irony that pushes Get Hard forward. Darnell is black, and automatically assumed to have gone to jail, while James is a privileged millionaire who eventually musters up more street cred than his counterpart. Hart accents Ferrell’s cries, raps and awkward attempts at confrontation with faux expertise that masks his actual bewilderment. James is funnier – but only because of Darnell.
Before the theater lights go down, one may suspect that Hart will be keeping up with a 20-year comedy vet, but rather, he serves as Ferrell’s very-necessary buffer. Proving that a secondary star is no less bright, Hart’s Darnell character is void of bells and whistles because he needs to be. The two funny men share an unexpected chemistry that achieves the primary goal: a good goddamn laugh. Hart is not out to show-and-prove in Get Hard, he’s out to get the job done.
No, Kevin Hart is not Eddie Murphy. He is Kevin Hart. – Iyana Robertson