The new Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart movie Get Hard premiered at SXSW this week and sparked controversy, with many upset at the comedy’s gay and racial jokes. Before the screening, Hart told the audience to give him reviews on Twitter. “If you don’t like it,” Hart joked, “what I want you to do is go in the middle of the street and kill yourself.” His co-star Ferrell added “send me handwritten notes. Hopefully, on nice stationery.” The pair may regret their words. The film is reportedly filled with homophobic and racially-charged jokes that “had the audience laughing and cringing at the same time,” according to The Boston Herald.
During a Q&A after the screening, an audience member said to director Etan Cohen that “the film seemed racist as f***.” Cohen stumbled for words, and spoke about the film’s “delicate balance,” adding “when we were testing the movie, Ferguson was going on. It was hard to modulate … how far to push it.” In the movie, Ferrell plays a millionaire facing prison for embezzlement. He hires Hart, thinking he’s an ex-con, to help him toughen up and avoid being raped in jail. “What follows is a string of envelope-pushing gags,” writes Ramin Setoodeh, “including a scene where Hart impersonates a Hispanic prisoner named ‘Carlos’ and rattles off a list of racial stereotypes.” Get Hard — which just might go soft at the box office due to bad word of mouth on social media — opens on March 27th.