Fist Fight (2017)12:09 PM
After School. Parking Lot. It's On.
Fist Fight is the feature length theatrical directorial debut from Richie Keen. The film stars Ice Cube (Ride Along, 21 Jump Street), Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses, Pacific Rim) and Jillian Bell (Office Christmas Party, 22 Jump Street). "When one school teacher gets the other fired, he is challenged to an after-school fight". Richie Keen is most known for comedy TV shows, TV movies or short films - can he make the big time with his first theatrical, feature length flick?
I went in with rock bottom expectations for Fist Fight - I was expecting something pretty terrible to the standard of Get Hard or Dirty Grandpa - I was pleased to find out that this film wasn't as bad as I was expecting, but it was still a pretty poor film and one of the weaker ones I've seen this year. I don't know if you could really call Fist Fight a comedy as most of the jokes fall flat and honestly, the story is a little stupid - some social commentary is shoe-horned in towards the end but it is literally that, it doesn't feel authentic and the rest of the film is so dumb that this social commentary just doesn't fit in.
The whole story for the film is pretty silly - one teacher gets fired so challenges the teacher responsible to a fist fight - there isn't actually much more to it. However, the film tries to add more to it by making commentary on the flawed American schooling system towards the end. However, I don't think this commentary is earned at all. I think this school was an incredibly extreme example of bad schooling - everything about it was bad and I doubt every single school in the US is like it - overaggressive teachers who would never get hired in the real world, a guidance counsellor who does drugs and tries to flirt with pupils, school security that ends as soon as school finishes - it's all just a little too ridiculous to be believable. The plot itself is very dumb and transparent - I think a plot like this may pass in a PG-13 film making it suitable for all ages but the R rating is just unnecessary - this film is aimed for 17+ and it would probably play best with 12-15 year olds (minus the drug references). The plot was also pretty predictable. I also wasn't a fan of how the film took place during one day - it made the pace feel very slow and for a 90 minute comedy, that's not a good thing. I also found it pretty irritating that the seniors kept doing pranks - I know it's a tradition but I'm 99.99% they don't do and get away with as many as they did in this film. The plot of Fist Fight is dumb and silly and is riddled with plot holes which is a fatal flaw for this film.
This is a comedy film, I don't expect much from the performances but they were average at best in Fist Fight - I don't think these usually funny actors were given the best material to work with. Let's start with Ice Cube - the main driving force behind this film. I actually found Ice Cube pretty intolerable towards the beginning of the film - his energy was way too high and he came across too violent and aggressive. I actually think his character played up to the most stereotypical characteristics of black Americans which was very outdated to see. Charlie Day wasn't good either - his character should have been the likeable one but I found it pretty hard to like him, he was just so dumb! Day's character is basically the nice guy and I think it was awfully stereotypical to see a good white guy set up against a violent black guy who had history in prison. This observation on race isn't just me coming up with it out of nowhere - there are plenty of racial 'jokes' within this film and even though it didn't come across as as offensive as Get Hard, I still don't think there's really a place for jokes/character types like this anymore in Hollywood. Finally, Jillian Bell - the only reason I had some hope in this film. I've been a fan of Bell in every film she's in, I find her hilarious! However, Bell wasn't really given much to do here as many of her jokes didn't land but the few that did were funny.
Fist Fight is very close to being deprived of any effective jokes - it's a pretty laughless comedy film...until the final act. There were a few jokes here and there that were admittedly effective and made me smile or giggle but there was no true, genuine laughter until towards the end. An example of some of the humour I liked was when the characters were sat around the table with all the different countries. However, the funniest moment was by far at Day's daughter's talent show - we knew they were going to sing a Big Sean song but when the song started playing and it was (potential SPOILER) 'I Don't F***k with you', it made me laugh out loud. The song was chosen as a dig at his daughter's bully and it was a very funny scene to watch. Sadly, that is where the good comedy started and finished. The final fight was also mediocre - I wouldn't have made a whole film building up to it as it was pretty anticlimactic - they could have thought of some more intelligent ways to choreograph action like R rated John Wick (2), Logan and Deadpool did.
Fist Fight is a disposable comedy that some may get some laughs out of but I guarantee there are far better comedies for 2017 that are just around the corner - well, if there's not, this will be a very bad year for comedy. Ice Cube and Charlie Day are annoying, Jillian Bell is underwhelming and many of the characters are very stereotypical. The film tries to make some commentary on the schooling system but doesn't really do anything interesting with it - especially when teachers probably won't relate to these extreme representations. The plot is stupid and dumb but there are some redeeming funny moments towards the end. I'm not going to remember Fist Fight in 2 weeks time, it's a forgettable and throwaway comedy that really lacks on the laughs.
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