Fist Fight *

Unfunny, unrealistic, and unwatchable. 

Is it worth $10? No

Schools such as the one in “Fist Fight” surely do not exist. If they do, I don’t want to know about them. This movie is a crass, unrealistic, and worst of all unfunny look at a high school that is truly out of this world.

In truth, that it is all of the above is not in itself bad, as this is a comedy, which means as long as it’s funny all is forgiven. But it’s not funny. In fact, the so-called “humor” is when the film is the most pathetically inept.

Roosevelt High School is not a place you want to send your kids, or worse, be employed. Most of director Richie Keen’s movie takes place on the last day of school, during which teachers have completely checked out and seniors seem to be trying to get expelled before graduation (alas, there is no mention of graduation). Students wear t-shirts with expletives, watch porn in the hall, destroy water fountains, vandalize cars, harass the security guard (Kumail Nanjiani), masturbate in the bathroom, etc.

In addition to indifferently dealing with unruly behavior, the faculty faces the pressure of having to interview to secure their jobs for next year. Essentially everyone, including English teacher Mr. Campbell (Charlie Day), the guidance counselor (Jillian Bell) and the physical education teacher (Tracy Morgan), has stopped trying to enforce school rules. Except one: Mr. Strickland (Ice Cube). He demands respect and discipline. When he speaks, the kids listen. And if they don’t, he’ll destroy their desks with an axe as they’re sitting in them. We know this because he does it. On a day he’s supposed to interview to keep his job. Yes, it’s that kind of movie.

When Campbell and Strickland are called to the principal’s (Dean Norris) office to discuss the axe incident, Campbell blames it on Strickland. Infuriated, Strickland challenges Campbell to a fight after school. So begins an inane, humorless and labored series of events that allow Ice Cube to act angry, Charlie Day to act like a scared sissy, and an underused Christina Hendricks to play a sadistic teacher to decent effect. Said series of events includes: planting drugs, a horse on meth, a little girl singing explicit song lyrics, soliciting a teen for sex, blackmail, extortion, beatings, and shameless product placement for Apple.

There’s only one comedic bit that works in all 91 minutes of this misfire: After Campbell is challenged to fight, he’s told by others of Strickland’s past, which is the stuff of urban legend. Everyone has a Strickland story, it seems, and they can’t all be true, but if even one of them is true Campbell knows he’s screwed. Among them: Strickland killed Saddam Hussein’s two sons, he was a gang enforcer, and he plays the piano. This is a smart montage that is actually quite clever, and works well to establish how endangered Campbell is. More originality like this, as opposed to crass easy humor, would’ve made the movie much better.

But, as always, I must review the movie I saw, not the movie they could/should have made. And ugh to the movie I saw.  

Did you know?
At one point Strickland says “F--- the police,” which is also the name of a hit song for Ice Cube’s hip-hop group N.W.A. in the 1980s.

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