The last day of school is pretty much the same across the United States: half days, final exams, the senior class has graduated and saying “see you next year” to friends and favorite teachers. Except for the high school depicted in the movie Fist Fight, which opens February 17, 2017.
Fist Fight is loosely based on an 80s-teen film called Three O’Clock High. Strickland (Ice Cube) teaches History and Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) teachers English at a suburban high school. Strickland is the school enforcer, whenever he steps into a hallway or room, everyone snaps to attention and follows his commands. In contrast, Campbell is not respected and is continuously ridiculed. The students are in command of the school and on this day, they are extra hyped up because it’s the last day before summer vacation. The students are pulling every crude prank they can come up with plus the staff is on edge over rumored terminations. Both Campbell and Strickland are attempting to give the students one last lesson before being dismissed for the summer. When they two teachers are asked about an incident by the school administration, Campbell causes Strickland to lose his job. Strickland challenges Campbell to a fight at the end of the day.
The comedy in this movie is exploitation of stereotypes: the angry black man, the wimpy white guy, the woman teacher lusting after her students, the bullies, the nerds and I could go on. There were few surprises; the punchlines were telegraphed before the joke setup started. There was nothing funny about the pranks the students were pulling on the teachers. They were crude or bordered on assault. At least Christina Hendricks was not cast as the sexy crazed teacher; she played over-dramatic/crazy quite well. The rest of the supporting cast is playing to stereotype they were cast, Tracey Morgan, as a losing coach/gym teacher, Dean Norris, bullying administrator, Jillian Bell, the sex crazed school counselor. I have seen all of them in similar roles and really did not add anything to this film for me. David Haysbert’s casting in a comedy was imaginative, the role didn’t do much to advance the story. Both Charlie Day and Ice Cube have had better material in previous performances. Nothing about these roles challenged them; both leading performances were phoned in.
While I was in a theater full of people laughing, I was not one of them. I concede, as a middle aged woman, I may have been the wrong demographic for this film; the only time I laughed occurred way too late for me. This movie gets a final grade of F for execution and effort.
0 punches out of 5
Thank you Allied for the tickets.