Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 28, 2017)
Try as I might, I canít think of any comedies about teachers that did really well at the box office. Truthfully, I canít think of many entries in this genre period, as school-based films tend to focus either on students or on ďinspirationalĒ instructors.
So comedies that delve into the world of educators remain fairly rare, perhaps because they donít seem to generate much box office heat. 2011ís Bad Teacher made a profit but as a film that barely cracked the $100 million mark, it didnít exactly turn into a smash.
Still, that beats 2017ís Fist Fight. Even with a low $20 million budget, the movie lost money, as it grabbed a blah $32 million US. That sum probably doesnít encourage studios to churn out more teacher-based comedies.
As someone whoís spent his entire career in education, the topic entices me, so I gave Fight a look. On the last day of school, high school Englishteacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) deals with a slew of pranks and shenanigans.
In the midst of the semi-mayhem, Andy unintentionally upsets history instructor Rod Strickland (Ice Cube). A tough, tenured teacher who tends to intimidate the rest of the school, Rod challenges Andy to an afterschool battle. We follow the day and its repercussions.
Viewers as old as I am will recall 1987ís Three OíClock High, a movie that told of a confrontation between a nerdy kid and a school bully. Can I say for a fact that this film inspired Fist Fight? No, but the two sure offer strong thematic similarities.
I never thought High offered anything special, but it looks like a classic compared to the abysmal Fist Fight, a movie so inept that it canít even get its title right. Why isnít it called Teacher Fight? Characters use that phrase repeatedly and it seems a lot more descriptive than the generic Fist Fight.
Maybe the studio worried Teacher Fight would inspire negative publicity, but if so, why make the movie at all? A thoroughly nasty, mean-spirited effort, Fist Fight comes with nearly zero positives.
Actually, it boasts a pretty good cast, but it wastes each and every one of the actors, and Day seems like a bad pick to play the lead. While funny in small doses, Dayís shrill, squeaky-voiced routine gets tiresome across 90 minutes.
Not that the material would succeed in the hands of anyone else, as Fight comes packed with nothing more than cheap, crude stabs at humor. Virtually no cleverness materializes, as the film prefers lowest-common-denominator bits without any real humor involved.
To make matters worse, Fight repeatedly stretches credulity in its quest for laughs. We get one scene after another that bears no connection to the real world, as the movie tosses any form of logic out the window.
I get that Fight doesnít pretend to be something realistic, as it just wants to give us a wild, wacky broad comedy. Even so, it needs some grounding in the real world and a form of internal consistency, neither of which arise.
Instead, we just get a slew of terrible gags, each one dumber than the last. This leads us inexorably toward the resolution of various plot points that wrap up in a neat, tidy way with no real logic to support them.
This really becomes an exceptionally flimsy framework for a movie, and Fist Fight stretches itself awfully thin. Even with a short running time, the movie becomes tedious well before it ends, and it gives us little more than a collection of bad set pieces cobbled into an unsatisfying whole.
Footnote: in addition to bloopers during the credits, a bonus sequence shows up after these conclude.