Review: “Fist Fight” Is A Morally Confused Mess
“Fist Fight” is something I somehow seemed to miss in terms of all the marketing, so I honestly had no idea what to expect.
Still I tried to give it a fair shot. It didn’t exactly work out for me. This is the sort of film I can see being divided clearly across lines of critics and “normal” viewers. Only time will tell with that, but until then let me try my best to explain why “Fist Fight” didn’t work for me.
CINEMATICS (PLOT, ACTING, CINEMATOGRAPHY, ETC.) – 3
As far as a comedy premise goes this had some potential. The plot is that on the last day before summer, at a HORRIBLE public school, a teacher (played by Ice Cube) has had it with all of the senior pranks and smashes up a student’s desk with an axe. That may sound extreme, but all of the pranks going on in this place are insane. The main character, another teacher (played by Charlie Day), witnesses it and threatened with losing his job (he has a wife, daughter and other one on the way), he rats on Ice Cube. After being fired, he challenges Day to a fight after school. The rest of the film takes place over the course of this day as Day tries everything he can to get out of the fist fight. So it’s a comedy high school version of “High Noon.” I can dig it, until I later read this is a loose remake of some other film called “Three O’Clock High” which somehow made me less impressed with the plot.
This is a very average looking film. This is not surprising as this is the first film directed by Richie Keen, whose credits prior to this all include television. It’s one of those things where there’s nothing especially bad about how it’s filmed, it’s just not especially exceptional in its visuals. The acting is just okay as well. The actors are trying and nobody feels like they’re trying to sleepwalk through their roles. Although Ice Cube is playing the exact character he always seems to play in movies. Honestly, it has become really old at this point. Charlie Day brings plenty of nervous energy, but I wouldn’t recommend this as a good introduction to his work. Most everyone else is trying with their roles, but are stuck with one note characters so no one acts like a real person. Christina Hendricks shows up for about 3 scenes, but has no real impact on the story so I really don’t get why she’s there. I suspect she had more stuff that was cut out. There’s also Tracy Morgan as the gym instructor who… how do I put this politely… I don’t much care for Tracy Morgan and wish he’d go away.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE – 1.5
Now most of the stuff I mentioned in the last section could be overlooked if the film was funny. I did not find it to be. Do you know what the film really reminded me of? Being stuck in class where someone makes a joke and everyone starts laughing or riffing on it while the teacher tries to steer it back to the lesson, but the other students won’t shut up. It gets to the point you just want to tell them all to shut up so the class can continue. That’s the feeling this film captured for me. Perhaps part of it was due to recent events related to school in the news still fresh in my mind, I just wasn’t in the mood to laugh about public schools. However, I don’t believe that’s it or at least not all of it.
This film just has a really confused moral. It is very aware that public schools need help and teachers deserve better, but it also seems to be making the case that violence is the answer. That somehow a fist fight is going to change everyone’s mind. I’d say the ending is a weak version of the “Rocky V” ending, but “Luke Cage” already did the “Rocky V” ending better than “Rocky V” did. Another good example of this is the running subplot of the Charlie Day’s character trying to make it to perform with his daughter in her talent show. Now you might be thinking, “you’re over-analyzing this Eric! It’s just a comedy!” I would argue that this film needed to go sillier or more sincere. PICK ONE! It wants to have its cake and eat it too. As such, the crazy parts just detracted from what is supposed to be the heart of the film and vise versa.
REWATCHABILITY – 1
I’m not planning to watch it again. Now it takes a TRULY AWFUL movie to make me unable to sit through it again. This is not the case here as I could watch it again, but more than likely it will be because I’m stuck somewhere with nothing else to do.
- Entertainment Value
"Fist Fight" doesn't work and needed to pick one way or another to tell its story or message. It needed to either go totally crazy or more sincere. As such, it just ends up canceling itself out. The actors try to make their one note characters engaging, but it never works out for them. I was so focused on how much I wasn't laughing to notice a cool "Back to the Future" reference. That's what a shame this film is. I give it 2 stars out of 5.
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