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Director: Richie Keen
Writers: Van Robichaux (screenplay), Evan Susser (screenplay)
Stars: Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan
Review by Gilbert Seah
As the title suggests, the climax and the soul purpose of the film is the FIST FIGHT that will happen at three o’clock after school at the school parking lot between the film’s two lead characters.
This is a pretty thin premise for a full length feature, so a running time of 90 minutes is not surprising. The goal of the script is to keep the audience attentive for the rest of the movie before the FIST FIGHT.
The beginning of the film sets up the incidents leading to the provocation of the challenge of the fight. This takes 15 minutes or so. It all boils down to a silly excuse of one teacher, Andy Campbell (Charles Day) telling on his fellow teacher, Ron Strickland (Ice Cube) as one of the two will be fired by the principal (Dean Norris).
Strickland challenges him to a fight after school in the parking lot. The news goes viral, in this modern day and age. The actual fight also takes a full 15 minutes. To director Keen’s credit, the fight choreography is well executed with a solid blend of excitement and hilarity.
The script by by Van Robichaux and Evan Susser introduces an assortment of weird characters to the comedy mayhem. Some work and some don’t. Miss Monet (played by Christina Hendricks, who has been voted before as America’s sexiest woman), the sexy drama teacher who has the hots for Strickland is one that works. She brings spice and unpredictability to the proceedings and her gait and mannerisms are priceless. Jillian Bell as the meth taking Councelor Holly who is constantly on the look-out for sex with her students is also funny.The principal’s (Dean Norris) role could have been funnier. A lesson could be taken from another adult school comedy STRANGERS WITH CANDY’s principal, who is the funniest bumbling idiot ever.
The film takes a while to land on its feet. Charles Day, playing the protagonist Andy Campbell is all over the place, partly due to the script. For the audience to root for him, he is given too many ‘vices’ for his character to be liked. For example, he is deemed a coward and snitch. To escape the fight, he plans to plant drugs on Strickland.
Ice Cube, has prove his mettle in comedy in the past, particularly in the JUMP STREET movies, and proves himself a better lead than Day.
It is hard to figure the film’s target audience. The language is quite foul with lots of swearing and references to sex and drug use. I am assuming the filmmakers take their audience to be partying teens in or just out of the school system. As one characters says in the film, “The best place to buy drugs is in an American high school.” School kids know more than adults give them credit for.
As the saying goes, if one does not have ones hopes up too high, one will not end up disappointed. I chose the screening of FIST FIGHT over A GREAT WALL as the last thing I would want to see is a pretentious movie about a glorified white man in China directed by Zhang Yimou who has turned exciting martial-art movies into boring pretty pictures (HERO). At least, FIST FIGHT is unpretentious. Crass though it may be, I got what is expected – silly, raunchy and adulterated entertainment.
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