Nothing about Fist Fight indicated a smart comedy, but at least it headlines a well-known comedic actor in Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and O’Shea Jackson — “Ice Cube” — who’s benefitted from his surprisingly funny roles in both Jump Street films. This could be somewhat decent as a turn-your-brain-off-and-watch comedy, right?
Boy, how I was wrong …
Fist Fight begins with introducing us to Andy Campbell (Charlie Day), a well-intentioned teacher in a high school full of tomfoolery. The audience is almost immediately shown a blanket draped over the school’s roof, which reads, “LAST DAY OF SCHOOL BITCHES!” This is hardly the most obnoxious element director Richie Keen uses throughout the film.
The film seemingly goes through the motions thereafter: Teenagers playing senior pranks, students stealing school memorabilia and even porn being played in the hallway where students are shown chuckling. It’s everything obnoxious about high school magnified to about 80x.
Stomping down the hallway to find out who stole the school’s commemorative wooden baseball bat is Strickland (Ice Cube). Screaming and yelling ensues, and we understand Strickland is the over-the-top angry teacher who chooses to educate with fear rather than logic. Let’s just say a fire axe is used in a classroom during one scene.
Problem is, nothing about Fist Fight’s script, penned by Van Robichaux and Evan Susser, made Ice Cube seem funny. Frankly, nothing about this script gave anyone their shining moment. The film attempts to make a joke about the Asian and black student’s porn prank by giving Strickland the lines, “What are y’all still doing here? Get y’all Rush Hour asses out of here.” Day is usually a funny guy, and this script gave him almost no material to work with outside of drugs and sex. The naive teacher shtick grew old by the second act.
Thought that was bad? There was an entire dialogue surrounding Ice Cube shouting at a Keurig and calling someone “Light Roast.”
The film’s central conflict revolves around Strickland challenging Campbell to a fight after he gets ratted out by his fellow co-worker, who doesn’t want to lose his job.
I mean … sigh. This nearly two-hour film was lost in laziness. Remember the stereotype joke we just made? Let’s make it again … and again … and again. There’s a running joke about actress Jillian Bell’s character, Holly, wanting to have teacher/student relations with what may or may not be an underage teen that barely resonated with our theater, but guess what? The film beat that horse to death, as well.
Speaking of horses, there’s a horrible running joke about a horse, as well. In a one-on-one conversation, Holly tells Campbell there’s a horse hopped up on meth. The film at this point has gotten so out of control and boring that it almost felt like a normal scene.
I think comedies centering around sex can be funny. I really enjoyed the humor found in The 40-year-old Virgin, for instance. However, when you look at the quality of jokes in Fist Fight, you wonder who thought these ideas were going to hit crowds in their funny bones. Bell’s character has an almost two-minute long conversation about how raping an underage student is OK. I had to stop myself from walking out of the theater at this point.
Tracy Morgan plays a failed P.E. teacher, Coach Crawford. Two high schoolers come into frame pushing lawnmowers. Crawford asks what they’re doing, and the kids lie about mowing the field for their principal, Principal Tyler (Dean Norris). The camera jumps out into an overhead shot, showing a penis being etched into the field. There are three more instances of this scene, showing the teens’ final product: a penis, breasts and … something else.
HOW IS THIS FUNNY? It isn’t even remotely humorous. It’s the worst form of immature comedy, and it’s how Fist Fight rolls for one hour and 31 minutes.
This mess of a film also fails to capitalize on its moments of human emotion. Campbell’s wife, Maggie (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), and young daughter, Ally (Alexa Nisenson) were intended to be the characters who brought the audience back down to earth. It didn’t work.
Fist Fight‘s grand ending was carried to the tune of Big Sean’s “I Dont’t F**k With You.” Again, unfunny and, honestly, if you’re banking on getting the audience rolling out of their seats with an outplayed song from three years ago, you lost before you even began.
Fist Fight continued to try, and try, and try again. They even went out of their way to gave closure to the teacher/student relationship, for crying out loud. So, the film never improved. Rather, it continued to drown in its own failed humor time and time again.
If you’d like an example of how to not film a comedy that runs almost two hours, Fist Fight is your type of movie. Other than that, avoid this movie at all costs.
I am thankful to Warner Bros. for allowing me an early screening of this film. Fist Fight runs 1 hour and 31 minutes, and releases in North America on Feb. 17, 2017.