It’s the last day of high school, and Charlie Day stars as an easy-going, good-natured school teacher who, to save his own job, gets another (angry and erratic) teacher (Ice Cube) fired after he chops up a kid’s school desk with an axe. The Cube challenges Day to an after-school fist fight at 3pm. Day is not the fighting kind, and desperately tries to wriggle out of it.
Written by Van Robichaux and Evan Susser, Fist Fight turns out to be a whole load better, and funnier, than expected. Packed full of strong language throughout, sexual content and nudity, and drug material, it crosses the line many times. But it is amusing, sometimes funny, sometimes even quite clever, and doesn’t outstay its welcome at 90 minutes. Day gives a skillful performance, warm, low-key and sympathetic, and Ice Cube is well used, giving his angry and erratic turn yet another, useful workout.
OK, but somewhat less amusing, are Tracy Morgan as Coach Crawford, Jillian Bell as randy teacher Holly, and Dean Norris as Principal Tyler (they should have made him the dean, shouldn’t they?). Christina Hendricks and Kumail Nanjiani are pretty awful as crazed teacher Ms Monet and useless school security guard Mehar. Good actor Dennis Haysbert is appallingly wasted as Superintendent Johnson.
Three people are credited for the ‘story’ but it could be written on the back of a postage stamp. Yet it’s a useful peg to hang the jokes on. The film isn’t as funny as it thinks it is, and (apart from Charlie Day) the performers aren’t as funny as they think they are. Yet there are plenty of giggles, chuckles and laughs anyway, some of them even laugh-out-loud.
© Derek Winnert 2017 Movie Review
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