Fist Fight 16
Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) and Strickland (Ice Cube) are teachers in the unruly Roosevelt High School. It’s the final day of semester and the kids are more anarchic than usual, in particular the seniors who are pulling pranks all over school. One of the pranks goes wrong and causes Strickland to get fired, but not without some help from Andy. As a result, Strickland challenges Andy to an after-school fight and the uncoordinated Andy has no idea what to do.
It’s a bare enough plot to base a film on and presumably this is so the writers can squeeze in as many jokes as possible. Unfortunately, pretty much every single one falls flat.
Charlie Day may be loveable in It’s Always Sunny but here he is wholly unlikeable. As the English teacher Andy Campbell, he acts like he’s the nice guy (at one point his wife even tells him that he’s “too nice”) but he's actually completely self-serving. At one point, he tells his wife about his day – while she’s in labour. That whole ‘so white, so awkward’ character is so overdone at this point. Throwing in a heavily pregnant wife and sweet-as-pie daughter to encourage the audience to like him doesn’t redeem the character.
As expected, Ice Cube is by far the funniest and most interesting character here, but he is just playing the same role he always does, albeit with a poorer script this time. Fans will recall the rapper’s rather brilliant turn in 22 Jump Street, and you can see how Fist Fight is trying to be like that film in the additional casting of Jillian Bell as guidance counsellor Holly. She talks about taking meth and wanting to sleep with her students to a silent audience.
As for Tracy Morgan’s Coach Crawford, he alternately yells a lot or excitedly exclaims. At one point, splashed with yellow paint from one of the seniors’ pranks, he says he looks like a Minion, so the scriptwriters (Van Robichaux and Evan Susser, in case you were wondering, are names I don’t intend to look out for in the future) show they’re down and hip with the kids.
One of the movie’s few enjoyable scenes comes towards the end when father and daughter (played by newcomer Alexa Nisenson, age 10) perform at the latter’s school talent contest. The sequence does provide some laughs but feels heavily borrowed from Little Miss Sunshine. As for the titular ‘fist fight’ itself, it fizzles but never takes off.
At any point in this film, I could have walked out, not knowing and not caring how it ends or what happens to the characters. Fist Fight is a comedy that’s just not funny. Save yourself the cost of a ticket.
Review by Deirdre Molumby | 13:52 | Tuesday 28th February 2017 | Movie Review