Review: Road Hard (Adam Carolla & Kevin Hench, 2015)

by Jason Suzuki

WARNING: FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a fan of Adam Carolla. I listen to his multiple podcasts on a regular basis. I have seen and enjoyed for the most part his other film The Hammer (2007). I have read all his books. I have seen him live and laughed a lot when I did. The only thing I think is fucked up about the man is his hatred for the film Drive. And the fact that he did not give Dr. Drew a cameo in his latest film, also his directorial debut, Road Hard.

In the film Carolla plays Bruce Madsen, otherwise known to the viewer as Adam Carolla. His most popular endeavor, a TV show called the Bro Show, is what people barely remember him for. Bro Show has replaced his name for when people recognize this C-list celebrity. His co-host on the Bro Show is now a big late-time talk show host. This dichotomy in current career status is something else people know him for. The film follows Madsen’s life as a traveling comedian, trying to find another career bump and in other words maintain relevance. One of the biggest compliments I can say about the film is that eventually I was watching it as Bruce Madsen’s story instead of just thinking of him as Carolla.

If you listen to Carolla on a regular basis you would be able to notice real-life experiences that Carolla has inserted into the film: “service dogs” on flights that are really emotional support dogs, doing a stand-up set with a sign language interpreter on stage and a deaf fan in the audience who hasn’t laughed once, and other real-life, self-deprecating moments of the sort.

The rest of the cast includes David Alan Grier, Jay Mohr, David Koechner, and Diane Farr who plays Carolla’s love interest: a smart woman who cracks brutal jokes at Bruce’s expense, the perfect person to bring him down to earth and make him reconsider his current career and his swaying stance on whether to stay true to himself or to dance for greater fame. Also Alison Rosen’s cameo still made the final cut even though her role as newsgirl on the podcast has not (give her another chance Ace Man!).

So do I like the film more than I normally would have because I’m a fan of the Ace Man? Probably, but that’s the fun of being a fan: you go on a journey with them as they take on new ventures and get to see them grow as an artist. The leap in quality from The Hammer to Road Hard makes me very excited for his next narrative film (he is also releasing a doc about Paul Newman this year). I just hope that his next one will be just as free as his podcast is, where he doesn’t have to be bound by convention and be as cynical and unaware of political correctness as he usually is to get the biggest laughs (from me at least). Adam Carolla’s Punch-Drunk Love, Observe and Report, etc. would be amazing. Yes, I will be the psycho fan who will present Carolla with a screenplay after a show. As for non-fans, you have to give the man credit for making a better rom-com than what Hollywood produces and for about 19% of the budget of one [I compared Road Hard‘s 1.5 million to Begin Again‘s 8 million. Now imagine if I compared it to Cameron Crowe’s upcoming Aloha].

Jason Suzuki is co-editor to Cinema Adrift.