FIST FIGHT Review
Director: Richie Keen
As a young kid, there were always those few legendary teachers, ones that were unspeakably badass and had mysterious stories made up about them. Then you grow up to find out that they’re just regular people. In director Richie Keen’s FIST FIGHT, those teachers are played by Ice Cube and Charlie Day. From the redheaded teacher with big boobs, to the plethora of penis jokes, FIST FIGHT encompasses the fantasy of a 12-year-old boy. Saying that, I would never let a boy that age see it. Viewers follow Charlie Day and Ice Cube as their frustrations with the school system lead them to rock bottom, allowing their anger to be released on each other in the extravagant, titular fight.
Speaking of their characters, let’s just say that Ice Cube plays Ice Cube and Charlie Day plays Charlie Day. There is no more depth to their characters than being the same as every character they’ve ever played. For example, every time Ice Cube says something, he points, the camera zooms in, and loud bass music plays to emphasize his menacing presence. Charlie Day is a neurotic, wimpy teacher who loses his sense of logical thinking. For what it’s worth, he does make some hilarious facial expressions. The supporting characters in this film are largely underutilized despite their undeniable talent. The aforementioned big-boob teacher? Well, that’s Christina Hendricks. Her character is poorly written and her talent is hindered as she plays a superficial rabble-rouser. Tracy Morgan also has a supporting role. As a hilarious actor, I was expecting some good jokes out of him. There were a few, but not enough to really advance the characters or plot, with Jillian Bell, Dean Norris, and Kumail Nanjiani similarly falling short.
“It’s his fault the movie is tacky”
On a side note, the original pitch for this film came from Max Greenfield; many of you may know him as Schmidt from NEW GIRL. I absolutely love Max Greenfield, but this movie idea seems like it originated as a funny anecdote from his character on the aforementioned show. On another tangent, I wanted to mention Dennis Haysbert’s appearance. He is a man with one of the most iconic voices of all time, seen on the Allstate commercials and LAW AND ORDER. In FIST FIGHT, he plays Superintendent Johnson, and his only line in the movie is a joke about his halibut fishing trip to Alaska. I personally enjoyed this because I’m from Alaska and I go halibut fishing many times a summer, but my weird personal connection aside, I don’t understand the choice for that to be the only thing a man with such an iconic voice said.
After the first five minutes of this film, I was ready to walk out. The intro to FIST FIGHT consists of Charlie Day walking through a school, surrounded by unrealistic high school senior pranks. The pranks are so unrealistic, it was as if the writers came up with a few good examples and ran out of ideas, resorting to stuff that doesn’t make sense. From booby trapping the campus with paint, to letting a meth-crazed horse run amok, FIST FIGHT is showered in childish absurdity. One could argue that the relentless stupidity is the heart of FIST FIGHT’s tone, but unfortunately, there’s no profundity in this tired retread of teen-comedy tropes.
This comedy is tacky, but what was really to be expected of it? A few things can be said in FIST FIGHT’s favor. First off, I found it interesting that 90% of the movie was just one terrible day; it’s definitely not the first film to do this, but FIST FIGHT accomplished it fairly well. I also appreciated the irony of Charlie Day repeating how meaningful words are in life, but not being able to use words to solve his issue with Ice Cube. The film clearly tries to connect with teachers, demonstrating the way that they feel helpless and unable to teach with the resources they are given. Maybe the film was trying to send a message about the dire straits of the American public school system, but there’s not much depth to the message, just cheap laughs. I do have to admit, I was laughing my ass off when Charlie Day and his daughter sang Big Sean’s “I Don’t Fuck With You”; if the rest of this movie got cut out and this was all that happened, I would’ve been satisfied.
“I have this amazing idea! No, listen, it’s bound to be a success. Picture this: two teachers get in a fight”
FIST FIGHT lacks depth in its main characters and underutilizes its supporting characters. The comedy is absurd and will only pique the interest of sophomoric teenagers. Having said that, there is a lack of a clear audience for FIST FIGHT, because it is an immature story that contains inappropriate content. It’s clearly geared towards teens aged 13-18, but is a little too vulgar for anyone under 16, woefully reducing its target demographic. With a story that is both contrived and shallow, Richie Keen delivers a movie that does almost nothing to justify its own existence. It’s dumb, and it knows it’s dumb. If you have an immature sense of humor or you simply want to waste your time, go see FIST FIGHT; otherwise, save yourself the money.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend