2 reviews

  • Do you remember 1987’s Three O’Clock High? I do. It was on cable a lot. Filmed at Ogden High School (in Ogden, Utah), “High” was about two high schoolers (a bully and a nibish) having a violent fight in said school’s parking lot. They came ready with brass knuckles, a huge crowd watching, and surrounding cars as a veritable boxing ring. Three O’Clock High was decent entertainment. It wasn’t an Academy Award winner. It wasn’t a critical darling. It was just a 101-minute time spacer. Who knew that something similar would be made thirty years later. I didn’t.

    Anyway, Fist Fight (my latest review) has “High’s” blueprint but Father Time makes it a slightly different animal. First off, “Fight” is R-rated and includes drug use, masturbation, penis jokes, and manifest F-bombs. Three O’Clock High on the other hand, is PG-13 with a little humor and some actual drama. “High” is more darkly comedic than anything else. Second, Fist Fight has its end-of-school showdown occurring between two teachers. “High” on the other hand, has two opposite students punching each other to a bloody pulp. Third, “Fight” has the advantage of social media. Thirty years ago in Three O’Clock High, there weren’t cell phones, YouTube, Facebook, or hashtags to let people know about the big fight after the final period bell. In Fist Fight, the bloodied up brawl between its combatant characters, ends up on national news. I guess the whole country got to see some of the footage. Heck, I’m not surprised.

    Now let’s not beat around the bush. You’re wondering if I would recommend Fist Fight. Well my answer is a firm no. This is a so- called comedy that is mean-spirited, rude, crude, and lewd. And in truth, no one on screen resembles the actions of any realistic human being. The worst part is that “Fight” with its envelope- pushing level of tactlessness, contains very few laughs. Yeah I chuckled once or twice but that was during a scene where some guy’s daughter sings Big Sean’s “I Don’t F**k with You” at a local talent show. Even then, I felt a little guilty by my actions.

    Protagonist’s daughters and minimal guffaws aside, “Fight” is a movie that lives and breathes in its own vacuum. It takes place in a high school environment where students treat the faculty like garbage and get away with it (the inmates basically run the asylum). Also, the principal is bent on firing every departmental teacher without any true reason whatsoever. The fantasy-like plot has nice guy teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day), getting short-tempered teacher Rod Strickland (Ice Cube) fired for taking an ax to one of his student’s desks. Angry and fumed, Strickland challenges Campbell to a “fist fight” after school. He proclaims Campbell to get his butt whooped and says quote unquote, “snitches get stitches”.

    Anyhow, despite my eventual one and a half star rating for Fist Fight, I will say that Ice Cube and Day are perfectly cast for their roles. Charlie Day is basically playing the same wheezily trouper from his Horrible Bosses flicks. His high-pitched voice and improvisation overload however, become grating after a while. As for Ice Cube, well a lot of critics say that he “growls” when he acts. This is true in “Fight”. Plus, Cube’s every facial expression looks like an overwrought scowl.

    Overall, Fist Fight ends with outtakes that are just as lousy as the film itself. I don’t know why filmmakers insist on using these tropes. They are tired and feel like something better suited for 10 years ago. It’s the same old BS. Actor messes up a scene, everyone laughs and giggles, actor tries different improvisational tactics to complete the scene. Rinse, rinse, repeat. Rating: 1 and a half stars.

    Rating: 1.5 out of 4 stars

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  • “Something’s funnier than it should be,” Charlie Day’s Andy Campbell observes in the early stages of Fist Fight, a rambunctious comedy that isn’t as funny as it thinks it is. A riff on the Western showdown classic High Noon, veteran TV director Richie Keen’s feature film debut has its moments but this is a thin premise that would have been more effective as the B story in a half-hour sitcom.

    It’s the last day of school at Roosevelt High, which apparently means mass firings for the disgruntled teaching body, who also have to contend with the traditional Senior Prank Day. This year promises to be an epic one with a horse hopped up on meth and a Mariachi band stalking the principal thrown into the usual mix of pornographic material peppering dry-erase boards, football fields, and whatever other available space is at the students’ disposal. The combination of job insecurity and the kids’ hijinks have pushed the teachers to the breaking point – though one could easily argue that most, if not all, of these overburdened instructors aren’t exactly sound of mind to begin with – so they all make a vow to stick together.

    Naturally the vow is quickly broken when mild-mannered English teacher Campbell snitches on fellow teacher Mr. Strickland (Ice Cube), a scowl-faced disciplinarian who takes a fire-axe to a student’s desk as a result of one of the pranks. Incensed at losing his job, Mr. Strickland challenges Campbell to a – you guessed it – fist fight after school. The students can’t wait for the throwdown. Campbell, unsurprisingly, spends his potential remaining hours of existence trying to find a way to get out of the fight so he can live to see his daughter’s school recital.

    Most of the talented cast is wasted – Tracy Morgan and Kumail Nanjiani go about their usual business, Jillian Bell manages to wring some laughs out of playing a guidance counselor who would do well to stop lusting after the teens, and Christina Hendricks sashays in and out of scenes as a French teacher with a taste for danger. The two leads do their best to sell the flimsy material, but they’re nothing more than reliable. Reliability is not a bad thing – it can at times be quite a strong asset – but, in this case, reliable means that they’re mostly running in place with Fist Fight the comedic equivalent of white noise.

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