Loves: Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Jillian Bell, Tracy Morgan
Likes: The rest of the cast
Dislikes: Dull comedies
Hates: Bad characterization, crappy students
Actions have consequences.
The sublead to this review is repeated in some form or another throughout the entire movie. An angry teacher gets fired over an outburst in a school that needs that outburst. But then there’s a teacher who can’t stand up for himself; even at home he needs to say no to his daughter. For all the complaints that can be said about the movie, Fist Fight has enough to satiate for one viewing.
Charlie Day and Ice Cube star as Mr. Campbell and Strickland respectively -- two teachers who couldn’t be more opposite. When a student causes Strickland to fly off the handle, the two are put on the chopping block for a school that is already getting rid of most of its staff. Campbell rats out Strickland who then vows to beat up the former after school. Now, Campbell must learn to fight. He uses his friends (Jillian Bell and Tracy Morgan) as crutches for his obvious failure at stopping the fight.
Fist Fight plays out as a singular story over the course of one day. It’s the best move, really, for a movie that has nothing going for it except for its cast. The premise just works. It doesn’t try anything it shouldn’t like instituting a B-story or forcing romantic layers between friends. It’s just a movie about a teacher who wants to beat up another teacher. And, with that notion, direction from Richie Keen is straightforward, almost unnoticeable. That is until the actual fight which plays out funny and frantically. For all the boring, dull moments in this comedy, the fight scene is worth the 80 or so minutes leading up to it.
But those 80 minutes have mismatched moments of enjoyment. Day is somewhat subdued here from his other roles. Ice Cube is over exaggeratingly angry. Bell and Morgan are the only two characters who consistently get laughs. The script from Van Robichaux and Evan Susser is desperately unfunny. It’s unclear if Keene allowed the actors -- save for Bell -- to play around.
What’s more is characterization is woefully bad. Day’s Campbell is a wimp and stays a wimp. It doesn’t matter if he stands up to his boss or actually participates in the fight, the character never grows more than his words (in the end, he screams at a student). Strickland is still angry by the end and seems to have learned nothing as well. To top it all off, characters seem to live in a world where everyone is a terrible person, from pregnant women to high school teachers who want to bang students. But the script never fully commits to letting them be bad people. They come off terrible and stay terrible throughout.
Should you watch Fist Fight?
Not even a Blu Ray release can help this beast. From the boring pace to the even worse script, Fist Fight isn’t worth going to the hospital for.