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Film Review: ‘Get Hard’



Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell in the comedy "Get Hard" (Courtesy Photo)

Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell in the comedy “Get Hard” (Courtesy Photo)


By Dwight Brown
NNPA Film Critic

Pairing Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell is like mixing gasoline and fire. You know there’s going to be an uncontrollable explosion. Though Get Hard’s paint-by-numbers script is merely serviceable, and screen writer/turned director Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder) hasn’t a clue about what he’s doing, the ebony and ivory actors pull this comedy off. They’re so damn funny!

The story commences in two disparate parts of L.A: In upscale Bel Air, James (Ferrell), a millionaire hedge fund manager, is about to marry his super-wealthy boss’s (Craig T. Nelson) shallow daughter (Alison Brie, Mad Men). In the working class neighborhood of Crenshaw, Darnell (Hart) lives with his wife (Edwina Findley Dickerson), a nurse, and young daughter (Ariana Neal). He owns a small carwash/detailing business that operates out of the garage of James’ high-rise office building.

James hardly notices that Darnell is the guy who services his car, until the rich dude is arrested and convicted of fraud. He’s sentenced to 10-years hard time in San Quentin and is scared to death he won’t survive. Assuming the man who washes his car has done time himself, he hires Darnell to teach him how to toughen up for the big house. James is wrong. Darnell is as middle class as the Brady Bunch, but he needs the dough to put a down payment on a new house. It’s on!

Screenwriters Jay Martel and Ian Roberts (both vets of TV’s Key and Peele), with the aid of Etan Cohen, have written a script, in the vein of Trading Places, that is a framework. They probably knocked the whole screenplay out over a game of poker and figured that the two comic actors could fill in the laughs. Cohen, who tries his hand at directing, shows little talent for the job. He sets up the camera, then he falls asleep. Minus some imaginative editing (Michael L. Sale, Tammy) in a staged prison riot scene, the film lacks style. It feels like a half-hour situation comedy that runs on for 100 minutes.

That said, it’s not like Hart or Ferrell care. They work their shtick like champs regardless. Ferrell is arguably one of the best comic actors of his generation, and Hart is the same for his. They improvise this film out of the danger zone and make it an uproarious comedy that will keep you in stitches.

Ferrell’s James is so aloof, naive and caught up in his whiteness that it is a joy to watch him transition from a snob, to a street-smart hoodlum with heart. Darnell tries to butch him up for two-thirds of the movie, but James just doesn’t get it. By the time he catches on, he reels off hostile one-liners like he was a real prison thug. As he pretends to tell off a sexually aggressive con in prison, he warns, “Hope you brought your Costco Card because you are about to get d— in bulk!” Ferrell’s characteristic charm goes a long way.

Hart moves around the set like an impish gazelle. You don’t have time to target him because he is that fast. He uses his self-deprecation, animation, vulgarity and street smarts to play a middle-class man who is pretending to be a hoodlum. Sometimes he is the aggressor in a scene, and sometimes the foil. He punches Ferrell with conviction, and takes a slug from his wife like a wimp. Together Hart and Ferrell are as funny as Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello.

As the story uncovers who stole the money and unravels Darnell’s rouse, it peppers itself with nudity, cursing, violence, racial slurs (derogatory terms for Blacks, Latinos and Jewish people), oral sex, cruising in a gay bar, hoodwinking an Aryan Race gang and gun-toting gang scenes with Darnell’s cousin Russell (T.I.). If offensive humor and situations bother you, stay home.

Check your social consciousness at the door. Forget the formulaic script and lackluster direction. Get Hard features two genius comic actors working their craft like magicians. Hart and Ferrell make this movie raunchy, silly, hysterical and fun.

Visit NNPA Film Critic Dwight Brown at

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ILWU Profile: Marcus McDade, Working on Oakland’s Waterfront

Oakland’s longshore and dock workers are the frontline essential workers for economic pandemic relief and supply-chain restoration.



ILWU member Marcus McDade

“I was born and grew up in North Oakland and attended Washington Elementary and Claremont Jr. High School, then Oakland Tech and graduated from Berkley High. I work for ILWU, Local 10 and have been a longshoreman for 22 years.  

“Before becoming a longshoreman, I worked small, part-time jobs including as a coach for after-school youth program football, basketball and baseball for Oakland Parks and Recreation. 

“A buddy called me one morning and said that the longshoremen were hiring and to get down to Jack London Square, fill out a postcard and send it in before 5 p.m. At the time, I wasn’t sure exactly what a longshoreman did, but I knew it was a good-paying job with benefits. 

“When I arrived at Jack London, there was a line wrapped around the corner. My buddy kept saying it was a good job, so I put in for it.  It was 1999, and my name was picked from the lottery. The rest is history. 

“This is a great job. It takes care of my family, my kids and me. I started off as a dock man, unidentified with no benefits, then identified and went straight to B-man and then A-man where I still am today.” 

“I like the fact that you can start at the bottom (unidentified) and be promoted to the top as A-Man. I’ve completed numerous skill trainings that allow me to work various waterfront jobs for good pay, including but not limited to operating top picks, calamars, cranes, and transtainers. 

“Not only are the pay and benefits great, I also love the flexibility. I pick up my jobs from the Hall and if a job is available and in alignment with my number, I can choose it because I’m trained in so many skilled jobs on the waterfront.

“Currently, I have a nephew who works on the Oakland waterfront.  I’m proud I was able to help my nephew have an opportunity as a longshoreman. He is a B-man and loves his job. Working on the waterfront as a longshoreman can involve strenuous physical labor, so it is not for everyone.

“Howard Terminal is on designated port land, and it provides more work for our industry and helps the whole port run more efficiently while keeping idling and parked cargo trucks off West Oakland streets. 

“The Oakland A’s should not have a ballpark there. The A’s move to Howard Terminal with thousands of fans will affect the future of the longshore workers, truckers, residents, and businesses. It’ll be far too congested down here and unsafe for the thousands of fans and residents who would be crossing rail lines and 24/7 cargo truck traffic.

“Make no mistake: I want the A’s to stay in Oakland. I’m a huge fan. I grew up in Oakland and in the same neighborhood as Ricky Henderson and his family. However, it would be best if the A’s found a way to continue playing at the Coliseum. 

“Longshoremen are essential American workers that keep America supplied with goods.”


The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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A’s Owner John Fisher Port Proposal No Good for Oakland

Billionaire John Fisher, owner of the A’s, has things to do before he can take over Oakland’s public port property to build malls and housing for the rich. 



Howard Terminal on Port of Oakland Map


Billionaire John Fisher, owner of the A’s, has things to do before he can take over Oakland’s public port property to build malls and housing for the rich. 

It is such a bad idea and the costs to the public are so ridiculous that logically it shouldn’t happen.  But this right-wing, Trump-supporting Republican has a boatload of money and a few corporation-oriented politicians to help him push it through.  

So, Oaklanders need to be active, or he might get it. Here are two of the things we need to act on: 

  1. Fisher won’t spend his own money.  So, he wants Alameda County to give up spending on things like the COVID-19 pandemic, so we residents can pay for his project with taxpayer money.  The vote on this will come up to the Board of Supervisors on October 26.  If you’d prefer that the County fund health care, housing and other resident necessities, ask them to vote “No.” Call your supervisor at 510-208-4949 and/or attend the meeting.
  2. The Oakland City Council will make the ultimate decision about Fisher’s project and there are a zillion reasons they should say “No.”  Among them: a) Fisher’s project requires that thousands of people run across the tracks of a busy railroad, which killed a number of people even before there were big crowds needing to get to their condos or a stadium.   b) And  Fisher’s project would wreck Oakland’s Port.  The “Seaport Compatibility Measures” necessary to keep the Port alive would cost hundreds of millions of dollars which would not be needed if it were not for Fisher’s project.  So, Fisher, not taxpayers, should pay for them. c)  And then there are all the other ways it will hurt the waterfront, the environment, and Port workers.

You can get contact information to reach your Council member here –

Personally, any public official who votes for Fisher’s project will never get my vote again.   Call me hard-headed, but the harm to  Oakland as a working-class, multi-racial city, the harm to the ILWU (the union of Port workers, perhaps the most progressive union in America)  and the opposition of the people of East Oakland are enough to make my hard head think that’s what solidarity requires.

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Development Group Proposes Black Panther Film Studios at Coliseum

Elaine Brown, former Black Panther Party leader and CEO of Oakland & the World Enterprises (OAW), has teamed up with master developer McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS), to create The Coliseum Dream development project.



Elaine Brown via Twitter

Elaine Brown, former Black Panther Party leader and CEO of Oakland & the World Enterprises (OAW), has teamed up with master developer McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS), to create The Coliseum Dream development project.

Highlights of the Dream project are: readiness to purchase the city’s 50% interest; positive discussions with the Oakland A’s; installation of Black Panther Studios as development anchor, which will be the first Black-owned film studio on the West Coast; ability to finance the entire development, estimated at $5 billion; building of hundreds of affordable housing units; development of a luxury hotel and department store; creating and supporting youth tech, arts and business training centers; construction of a supermarket in a food desert; making Oakland a tourist destination.

Vince Bennett, president and CEO of MBS, a multi-billion-dollar housing developer based in St. Louis, said: “MBS is ready to immediately enter into a purchase and sale agreement with the City of Oakland and become the master developer of the entire site.”

The Coliseum Dream Development Group (CDDG) recognizes the impossibility of developing the Coliseum site solely by purchasing the city’s 50% interest. Partnership with the other 50% interest owner, the Oakland A’s, is necessary.  

Brown says she has discussed the site with Dave Kaval, A’s president, over the last few years, and said, “Dave has stated he loves the idea of Black Panther Studios as the anchor of CDDG’s development vision.”

The problem CDDG faces is not readiness on its part but the City Council’s unwillingness to entertain proposals other than those two they hand-picked in a recent closed session.

In a closed session scheduled for Thursday, October 7, the Council considered the merits of its two preferred proposals, based on reports from the City Administrator.  This closed session meeting arose from a vote of the Council’s Rules Committee on Thursday, September 30.  

In lieu of allowing Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan’s request to push through a resolution at the Council’s October 19 meeting to enter into an agreement with the group she is promoting, the Council decided to consider the two proposals.  

It’s unclear what happens next.

Brown said, “There is no process regarding the sale of the city’s interest in the Coliseum, certainly not one that is transparent.”

In a statement to the Oakland Post, Brown submitted the following questions and answers:

Q:  Everybody talks about jobs and housing.  Will your group be able to deliver on the promise in your Coliseum Dream proposal to create jobs and build affordable housing for the community?

A (Elaine Brown): “Oakland & the World Enterprises (OAW), of which I am CEO, is presently co-developing a $72 Million, 79-unit, 100% affordable housing project in West Oakland with master housing developer McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS), headed by CEO and President Vince Bennett. 

“This reflects my ongoing commitment to the ideal of the Black Panther Party, of which I was a leading member, of Black self-determination.  The track record of MBS for building affordable housing is without parallel.  Not only has MBS built thousands of affordable housing units throughout the U.S., as well as, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, MBS is currently building a $1 billion development in Dayton, Ohio, the Dayton Arcade, which includes hundreds of affordable housing units and is bringing residents, jobs, and visitors back to downtown Dayton.  

“Our Coliseum Dream anchor project, Black Panther Studios, alone, will create thousands of new, high-tech jobs, and we will build an affiliated tech training center to create a new generation of Black, tech-savvy “digital carpenters” to make films and enter the tech economy at a high end.

Q:  Even if you are willing and able to purchase the City’s 50% interest in the Coliseum site, how can you develop the site without either purchasing the A’s 50% or partnering with the A’s?

A, (Elaine Brown): “Our team is prepared to purchase the City’s 50% interest outright, today.  We have not discussed purchasing the A’s 50% interest with the A’s, but, if that were an option, we would take it.  We have been in discussions with Dave Kaval, A’s president, over the last two years about our Coliseum Dream, and Dave has unequivocally stated that if we were to acquire the City’s 50%, he would work with us.  And, we have told Dave, we are willing to partner with the A’s.”

The Dream Proposal is available here:

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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