Fist Fight (2017): An Average Screwball Comedy
One of the first zany comedies of the year is Fist Fight, a movie where two teachers fight each other at the end of the school day. With such a premise, you can be sure that the following review will be spoiler free so that you can view all the hi-jinks for yourself.
Fist Fight is directed by Richie Keen and stars a large comedic cast such as Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, and Jillian Bell. It’s the last day of school at Roosevelt High School and the students are going absolutely nuts with pranks and vandalism. Andy Campbell (Day) is doing his best to get through his final day of school (while worrying about whether he’ll be fired or not) when he gets caught up in one of Ron Strickland’s (Ice Cube) over the top actions to keep his students in check during class. When the principal starts asking questions, Campbell snitches, causing Strickland to lose his job. As a result, Strickland then challenges Campbell to a fist fight at the end of the school day.
While they constantly plays the same roles in film, there’s no denying that Charlie Day and Ice Cube have solid comedic timing. Day has been killing it for years with his hit TV show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and has recently done well in films such as Horrible Bosses and Pacific Rim as he continues to improve his signature riffing style of comedy. While it sometimes doesn’t work in film if he doesn’t have good chemistry with the rest of his cast, it works really well when properly applied. Along the same line, Ice Cube always plays the rough, tough guy that doesn’t take crap from anyone and always sports a grimace, but you can’t help but enjoy it every time.
I really liked the idea of this movie taking place all in one day. It’s always a nice change of pace to have a film take place in a confined area and/or time period rather than the typical movie that expands the globe over uncertain amounts of time and people just happen to show up in the same place at the same time. Although it might not be on full display in a zany comedy, keeping the story confined to a day allows the storytelling of a movie to shine and lets the circumstance of the scene play out until it meets its end.
What I Liked
While the end result of Fist Fight is mixed, there is some fun to be had if you’re willing to sift through jokes that don’t hit too well.
The obvious stand out of the film is Ice Cube. He continues his movie persona of being angry and intimidating, but it still works really well. We’ve all had that unnecessarily hard teacher that goes WAY too hard with discipline in the classroom. Ice Cube is the exaggeration of that teacher. Having a teacher who has a disciplined class solely out of fear because he might smack some of the students in the face to shut them up or crack their desk in two with an axe allows for some fun gags. Ice Cube definitely has the most jokes that went over well with the audience in the theater.
What I Didn’t Like
However, for all the promise that this movie has, it predominantly falls pretty flat. The dialogue itself would appear to be funny in a vacuum, but a lot of the line delivery just doesn’t work. Charlie Day has a few lines at the beginning of the film that are suppose get some laughs but are said in such a monotonous, boring manner that it just comes off as very bland. Other cast members, such as Jillian Bell and Tracy Morgan, deal with the same issue. The things they say are completely ridiculous and could get major laughs, but it feels like the actors saying these lines are sleepwalking through the movie.
Fist Fight just doesn’t have the snappy feel you would want out of a movie about two teachers fighting each other after school. The entire production drags on, often resulting in comedy of the lowest common denominator rather than quick, smart banter that truly great comedies employ. Nothing about the movie is incredibly memorable and simply comes off as a very generic movie.
Writing a review for a comedy is tough since it’s hard to say over and over again why a movie made you laugh or not. But in the end, Fist Fight had too many breaks in between big laughs, leading to a disappointing film as whole. There are definitely fun moments to be had, but they’re unfortunately few and far between. Fist Fight gets a C-. Wait until this movie in on HBO or some other channel to watch it.
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