Thursday, 23 February 2017

Fist Fight: Film Review

Fist Fight: Film Review

Cast: Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Jillian Bell, Tracy Morgan, Christina Hendricks, Dean Norris, Kumail Nanjiani
Director: Richie Keen
Fist Fight with Ice Cube and Charlie Day

That it takes 75 minutes of the 90 minute comedy Fist Fight to elicit a belly laugh is a sad state of affairs.

And that its laugh comes courtesy of a rehash of Little Miss Sunshine's inappropriate talent show is to further damn this knuckle-head comedy that purports bare knuckle fighting is any way to solve conflict.

Dubious central message aside and ignoring the feeling that this is about serving Charlie Day's nice guy English teacher a lesson on standing up for yo'self to the bullies / empowerment, Fist Fight is also noteable for its return to the screen of 30 Rock alum Tracy Morgan after his 2014 accident.But even the return of this once comedy giant can't quell the depressing state of affairs that transpires when Day's down-trodden Andy Campbell gets Ice Cube's growling strict Strickland fired on the last day before schools out.

How does the intimidating Strickland respond? By challenging Campbell to a fight in the yard after school.

Fist Fight with Ice Cube and Charlie Day

And we thought they were supposed to be teachers.

So far, so puerile for these bad teachers.

But as R rated comedies like The Hangover et al have demonstrated, big laughs can be garnered from smart deployment of crude gags, recognisable, and somehow,relatable characters and some semblance of plot - even the central idea is not a cerebral one.

Fist Fight cares not one bit for these rules and sticks doggedly to its MO of Day squawking and running from his plight.

The first rule of any comedy - be it derivative or otherwise - is to ensure there are laughs. Yet while there are three scriptwriters putting their names to this, the laughs are few and far between. 

Jillian Bell channels inappropriateness as a teacher hitting on students, Cube riffs on his street image and even gets to utter his infamous and inflammatory NWA line once again, and a returning Morgan gets to go off script occasionally (with an over-riding feel that improvisation was high on the list for this loosely written piece). And Mad Men's Christina Hendricks' French teacher is psychotic for no reason - a real waste of her talents. Though on reflection, most of the players in this are doing thankless work as this patchy mess of missed moments and occasional one-liners plays out.

However, even with Day's desperately wound, utterly neurotic and screeching Campbell rushing around, there's simply not enough humour to fill 30 minutes, let alone 90 minutes. 
Fist Fight with Ice Cube and Charlie Day
Fist Fight with Ice Cube and Charlie Day

Apparently despite paying homage to Three O'Clock High, the film's writers still don't feel the need to flesh it out more, or make any of the rest of the teachers sane enough to care about or connect with.

While the promised titular bout finally arrives, it delivers only muted moments of cinematic stupidity to counter the utter screeching that's already passed. 

And it's by this stage, that, quite frankly, either copious amounts of alcohol or a punch to the side of the head and KO would be preferable to any more of this "comedy" transpiring.

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