Will Ferrell as a rich, dickish hedge fund manager caught with his hands in the cookie jar and facing a 10-year prison stint just when he’s about to marry his skeezy boss’ (Craig T. Nelson) sexy, money-mad young daughter (Alison Brie)? And Kevin Hart as the financially strapped family man who washes his cars and whom he hires to toughen him up for life in the big house for embezzlement and fraud? What could go wrong? Almost everything that possibly could in Get Hard, a defiantly lowbrow, stupidly raunchy but dated mess directed by Etan Cohen (who wrote Men In Black 3).

The trouble starts with an outrageously unfunny and offensive trip to a gay brunch (because the movie presumes, of course, everyone in jail will want a piece of Ferrell’s ass) and continues with an outrageously unfunny and offensive trip to the crib of a gang-banger (because, of course, all black men are thugs). The joke is – and a good one, too – that Hart’s character is secretly a hardworking, family-oriented husband and dad who is as clueless about the ways of the street as his boss is. But he needs the money to buy a house in a neighborhood with better schools. With such a promising premise at its center, Get Hard could have been scathingly, satirically funny, a kind of 48 HRS meets Trading Places for moderns, but, oh, man, it’s not. It’s a badly filmed, ugly-looking, ugly-spirited hock in the eye to race relations and loaded with persistently bizarre rape references and homosexual panic. No matter how good Ferrell and Hart can be, and both have some big laugh moments here, Get Hard is the kind of Neanderthal-level fiasco any self-respecting talent ought to wish away from his resume. ½