Movie Review: ‘Fist Fight’


Director: Richie Keen

Cast: Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Jillian Bell, Tracey Morgan, Dean Norris, Kumail Nanjiani, Christina Hendricks

Plot: Mr. Campbell is a put upon English teacher at a terrible school and, already stressed out by senior prank day, he gets the psychotic Mr. Strickland fired. Strickland challenges Campbell with a fist fight after school.

Review: If you’re thinking that this film is just a stage for Charlie Day to do his Charlie Day routine with a director from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia letting him do his thing, you’d be right. If you think Charlie Day’s usual schtick is the funniest thing on the planet then you’ll no doubt enjoy this film. Otherwise consider this as little more than an example of terrible film-making. Fist Fight is littered with awful film technique, writing and editing.

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I know some people few comedies as cheap and easy popcorn entertainment, but even if that is the case you’d think the film-makers could at least try not to make a complete mess.

Tracey Morgan comes out of a meeting complaining about wearing jeans, a call back to a throwaway line from more than an hour earlier. The entire scene is shot from the waist up. Is he wearing the jeans? Do they look bad? They couldn’t even point the camera down to show this. Ice Cube makes a big fuss about not messing with the prize positions in the sporting trophy cabinet and in the very next scene there’s a whole dialogue about the school never winning anything. Why is there a cabinet full of sporting awards? We’re shown all the students are scared of Strickland, but we’re not shown why. Not that it matters because they pull pranks on him anyway. Why, if they all got their jobs back in the end of the movie, are they standing in what is very clearly a different school with the same crest on the wall? The script is equally confusing. Campbell never bothers teaching his classes and leaves the school twice without consequence…if it’s that easy to get away from the school without anyone caring THEN LEAVE. He doesn’t want to stick around and get beat up and there’s literally nothing stopping him from walking out the door. It’s mind boggling how lazy this production is. It honestly feels like it was made based on a half finished draft. 

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Entire characters can be cut out of the film without consequence. Both Christina Hendricks and Kumail Nanjiani have no impact on the story whatsoever. They’re both one note characters who occasionally wander across a scene, delivers their one tired joke for the third time and then vanish. At the end Hendricks thanks Day for having gotten her a job back – we never saw her get fired. We never even find out what her job was in the first place. We can only assume she was another teacher because, as we established, her entire role is to walk in front of the camera a few times. Someone really must’ve been calling in the favours to pad out the cast list. Everyone is just revisiting the role that they’re best known for. Nanjiani is doing the same thing he does in Silicon Valley, Norris is doing the same thing he did in Breaking Bad, Tracey Morgan is doing the same thing he did in 30Rock…it just makes us want to watch those much smarter and much funnier shows.

As for the comedy, it is on extremely thin ground. Jillian Bell gets some traction as a meth-using consoler obsessed with sleeping with her students, but most of the ‘comedy’ is hinged on the audience recognising the actors from other roles. If Ice Cube saying a line from a song he recorded 29 years ago is your idea of a punchline, then you’ll enjoy this extremely bland offering.

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It tries to paste in a message about underfunded schools and standing up for yourself, but the solution to both issues is trying to beat the shit out of someone. This school comedy is a hard fail.

Rating: TWO out of TEN.

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