Quick Hit – Charlie Day is Charlie Day, and Ice Cube is Ice Cube. I don’t think there is much else of note.
I completely understand the need for mindless comedies. For every Manchester By the Sea, there is probably a Happy Gilmore or a Liar Liar out there (maybe two times the amount of dramas). That’s because laughter is an intricate part of the human experience, and life gets tough. Sometimes you just need to turn your brain off a bit and laugh. However, I do think that sometimes we get a bit lazy and just throw jokes at a screen and expect it to be funny.
Fist Fight (or what should have been named #TeacherFight) features Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny) as Andy Campbell, a sad sack English teacher who is essentially every character Charlie Day has played. When he is complicit in the firing of history teacher Strickland (Ice Cube), there is a fight to be had after school. Surrounding this are a myriad of “comedic” things, some driven by the pranking students on the last day of school, others driven by Campbell’s attempts to avoid the fight after school. Along the way, our hero learns something about standing up for himself.
Honestly, the movie doesn’t sound that bad when you type it out. The problem is that the execution is way, way off. There are moments where you might get a modest chuckle in (one prank in particular involving a mariachi band is worthwhile), and the final fight is enjoyable, because everything becomes a weapon, and essentially the two characters become caricatures of themselves. But everything in between seems much longer than the 90 minutes. We have all the comedic tropes of the current crazes – side characters that spout crude sexual humor or drug jokes. That’s pretty much it.
There is a much better movie hiding inside this one. That movie is filled with political and racial commentary, as well as providing a vehicle for a returning Tracy Morgan to the screen. It could also be a social commentary on the state of the American education system. For instance, Strickland really is a good teacher, yet in this movie he is made out to be the bad guy. Essentially, he’s the only person outside of a few scenes with Day that seems capable of actually running a classroom. There are also a lot of jokes that are almost funny, featuring a security guard and the principal of the school. With a little script editing, we could have gotten a film that accomplished its goals instead of flailing for 90 minutes.
As I stated, the movie is a loss overall. But if you need to turn off your brain for a bit, I guess you can check it out. I’m giving it a “D”.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"