Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Movie Review: "Fist Fight" (2017)

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Movie"Fist Fight"
Director: Richie Keen
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

On the last day of school, in order to save his own job, English teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) rats on history teacher Mr. Strickland (Ice Cube), who broke a student's desk with a fire ax. Once Campbell tattles, Strickland loses his job. This leads him to challenge Campbell to a fist fight after school to settle their beef. 

"Fist Fight" is the feature film debut of director Richie Keen, who has previously directed television shows like "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." It stars Charlie Day as Andy Campbell, a nice guy English teacher who works at the most unruly school with the most disrespectful students in existence. His wife is about to give birth any minute to their second child and the principal of his school is administering mass firings, so needless to say, he is a little on edge. Joining him is Ice Cube, who plays history teacher Mr. Strickland, the meanest, most intimidating teacher at Roosevelt high school. When Campbell sees Strickland take an ax to a student's desk in an absolute display of overreaction, principal Tyler, played by Dean Norris, threatens to fire both Strickland and Campbell unless someone fesses up to what really happened. In order to save his own job, Campbell rats out Strickland. When Strickland challenges Campbell to a fist fight after school, word of the upcoming battle spreads like wildfire across not just their campus and the neighboring high school, but all over social media and their entire town. Also in the film are Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Kumail Nanjiani, and Christina Hendricks. 

If there is one thing we learned from "Fist Fight," it's that violence solves everything, kids! If students are unruly, teachers should feel free to threaten them with violence, yell at them, slap them, cuss at them, and call them names as reasoning with them and treating them with respect is simply useless and ineffective. Have a problem with another person? Challenge them to a duel! Oh, but it's totally okay that the teachers in this movie threaten to and even do physically harm them because the kids are smarmy assholes!! The school itself is unbelievably dysfunctional as the students are so far beyond anything you would remotely see in real life that the suspension of disbelief is far too great for us to indulge. Students openly assault teachers verbally and physically with no repercussions. It isn't hard to see why though since you hardly ever see a teacher in their classroom anyway. Campbell enters and exits his class whenever the hell he wants, taking long, extended periods of free time to buy laptops and join in on his daughter's talent show.

Another thing we learned is that lazy dick and fart jokes are still not funny. They haven't been for a long time, and they still aren't funny in 2017. There is just so much that goes wrong in this mostly unfunny mess of a movie. Jillian Bell's character Holly, who is the school's guidance counselor, has running jokes about smoking meth and wanting to sleep with underage male students, a joke no one would ever consider today if the gender roles were reversed, and with pedophilia in the news just this very week, it honestly couldn't have been more poorly timed (not that there's ever a right time for jokes of that nature, but jesus, just stop with jokes like this). Ice Cube just plays the mean muggin' tough guy character he plays in pretty much every movie he has ever been in, complete with NWA lyric references and nods to his other films like "Friday." His mean straight-man persona can work with the right comedian aiding him along the way, and unfortunately, Charlie Day's spastic, weaselly wimp just doesn't quite cut it. Charlie Day is one of those actors who works much better in a supporting role, not as a lead part. We both really like him, but this is nowhere near his best work.

To say "Fist Fight" is completely devoid of laughter would be a lie. There are two moments that genuinely made us laugh out loud, one of which is the climactic fist fight itself. Unfortunately, you have to sit through 75 minutes of unfunny crap to get to the solid 15 minute finale. Everything leading up to that is a calamitous series of epic misfires and bad casting choices. Avoid this one at all costs.

My Rating: 3/10
BigJ's Rating: 3/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~32%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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