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Review: Fist Fight

Fist Fight
02.17.2017
6 10

PLOT: After a school’s tough history teacher, Mr. Strickland (Ice Cube), is ratted out by his meek colleague, Mr. Campbell (Charlie Day) causing him to lose his job, he challenges his fellow teacher to meet him for a fist fight at the close of the school day. Desperate to get out of the fight, Campbell does all he can to foil Strickland’s plans, only to realize some fights you don’t back down from.

REVIEW: FIST FIGHT is basically a remake (although the filmmakers would call it a homage) of Phil Joanou’s eighties classic THREE O’CLOCK HIGH, only with teachers instead of students. Opting for a zany, HORRIBLE BOSSES-type tone, FIST FIGHT begins as just another R-rated comedy trying hard to be racy, only to eventually gel in a solid third act that more-or-less makes the whole thing worthwhile.

The leads are well cast, with Cube as intimidating as ever as the near-crazed history teacher bent on showing his colleague that “snitches get stitches.” Is that a good message to send to the students? Probably not, but Strickland is shown to have a few screws loose right from the start, taking a fire axe to a pupil’s desk and ruling his class with intimidation that seems more like bullying, even if all the students are little jerks. When the movie occasionally tries to get you to sympathize with Strickland, it doesn’t quite go over, as in the real world a guy like him would probably need to be medicated for his insane, violent rages and not be teaching a class.

Then again, the rest of the teachers aren’t much better, with only Day seeming sane. Some of them are funny, like Tracy Morgan, at long last recovered from his accident, as the school coach who says “I’m trying not to get any of the student’s moms pregnant – I’m trying!” Others come a little too close to being insane, like Christina Hendricks's switch-blade wielding teacher, who fantasizes about cutting Day’s head open for a reason that never really makes sense. Then there’s Jillian Bell’s rapey guidance counselor, who proudly says she’s on meth and is counting down the days until her student crushes turn eighteen so she can have sex with them. Umm, creepy, right?

Yet, Day kinda makes it all work, playing his character in a relatively down-to-earth way that bodes well for a good career on the big screen. He’s definitely not doing what he does on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, and his acting is pretty good, especially in the last act, when he decides to man up and take his medicine, leading to a good, lengthy fight with Cube – the highlight of the film.

The one big problem though, it that FIST FIGHT, while breezy enough of a watch, isn’t especially funny. Many of the lines fall flat, and when we get to the fight it’s almost played straight – just like in THREE O’CLOCK HIGH, although this lacks that film’s style or edge. Still, considering the recent lack of decent big-screen comedies, you could do a lot worse that FIST FIGHT, and even if it only really works in the last act, at least there’s that.

Source: JoBlo.com

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