'Fist Fight' offers us Charlie Day in a leading role in all his screeching glory.
The film, a teacher-centric spin on 1987's Three O'Clock High, stars Charlie Day and Ice Cube as high school teachers preparing for an after-school fist fight of epic proportions after Day's character gets Ice Cube's character fired.
While "Fist Fight" tries to evince the same brand of gleeful depravity of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" - a mix of the jaunty and the jaundiced that also stars Day - the film only ever manages to achieve a sour mood of dyspeptic irritation with the status quo. As the only intimidator in the entire school, History teacher Ron Strickland (Ice Cube) usually doesn't have to worry about students getting out of line, but Campbell catches him at the wrong time.
You can tell me "Fist Fight" is a live-action, R-rated cartoon, and I shouldn't take any of it literally. It also might fill in why Campbell is so shocked when it's revealed Strickland is such a hothead that the latter takes a fireman's axe to a desk when a student pranks him (again, they have presumably spent the whole school year under the same roof).
The movie opens on senior prank day, also the last day of the school year, at Roosevelt High School somewhere in suburban United States of America, where students are lawn-mowing offensive images into the grass of the football field, a drug-addled horse is roaming the halls, and pornography has been rigged to play on a device in the school trophy case. Fist Fight isn't as bad as something like Dinner for Schmucks, which ultimately wants its cake and to eat it, too, with its condemnation of a group of guys who publicly mock odd individuals they've wrangled together being in contradiction to the fact that movie itself means for the audience to laugh at those eccentric characters.
The other character, who's only seemingly normal compared to the others, is English teacher Andy Campbell portrayed by Charlie Day. When it's filming time, I'm pretty much focused. Kumail Nanjiani shines as the ineffectual campus security guard, and 10-year-old newcomer Alexa Nisenson is a scene-stealer with her school talent show performance.
Charlie Day stars in the upcoming film “Fist Fight.” Courtesy of Gage Skidmore
In the final hours of the semester he's besieged by senior prank day.
But kudos to director Richie Keen for making a movie called Fist Fight - and then giving us just that. Christina Hendricks, as an intense drama teacher who apparently has a crush on Strickland (which was never explained or explored), seems like she was thrown into the movie for little reason. There's nothing creative or clever or subversive about Fist Fight.
"Fist Fight" is an indulgence in adolescent male fantasy, where teachers fight and kids rule the school.
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Not really. I don't feel better or worse or anything. The cowardly, desperate Campbell is no more sympathetic than the glowering, short-tempered Strickland, and even Campbell's pregnant wife and young daughter are obnoxious. This is no one's fault, really - these films are re-written and studio-noted into oblivion, re-tooled and rejiggered to please as wide a swath of audience as possible, even if they're basically just foul-mouthed sitcoms. But most of the movie is just people screaming swear words at each other.
Fist Fight opens in theaters Friday, February 17.
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