Movie Review: "Fist Fight"
It is the last day of the school year, and—for teachers—that means one thing: senior pranks. Every year, the seniors pull all sorts of pranks on their teaches, and they try to out-do the pranks from the seniors the year before. It is all in good fun, but it can become a nightmare for the teachers. Ron Strickland (Ice Cube) and Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) are two such teachers. Both are trying to keep their cool amidst all the pranks. They just need to get through the day, and then they will be in the clear until next year.
However, when Ron Strickland loses his cool in a big way, the school has no choice but to fire him. He blames Andy Campbell for not having his back, resulting in him getting him fired. Thus, Ron Strickland has a score to settle. He tells Andy Campbell that they are going to fight after school. He sets a time, sets a place, claims that he is going to kick Andy Campbell’s ass, and does all of this for the whole school to hear. The upcoming fight is getting a lot of hype around school, and there is no way out for Andy Campbell. Now, school pranks are the least of his concerns.
The Pros & Cons
The Premise (+3pts)
The Execution (-4pts)
Charlie Day & Ice Cube (+4pts)
The Comedy (-4pts)
The Fight (+3pts)
The Ending (-3pts)
Pro: The Premise (+3pts)
I really liked this premise. It is a ridiculous idea that sets up the movie perfectly. You know that it will be a movie that will not take itself too seriously. You know there will be some amount of ridiculous, physical comedy. You also know that one teacher is essentially a bully, while the other is a helpless victim. It is a familiar story, but making it about teachers makes it drastically more ridiculous.
That is what you know going into this movie, thanks to the premise. It tells you what kind of movie this is, while also peaking your interest, and leaving you curious to see how the whole thing will play out. The movie ended up being at its best while it was focusing on that premise, but the filmmakers unfortunately had a tough time staying focused on it. I will get into that a little later, but know that the movie had a decent premise, and was both funny and engaging whenever it was focused on that premise.
Con: The Execution (-4pts)
As I mentioned before, the movie was at its best when it was focused on the premise. Unfortunately, I felt like the filmmakers did not have enough of a story to tell that was related to that premise. This meant that they needed to add additional storylines, and that those storylines would not be entirely relevant. Specifically, the filmmakers added storylines regarding the two teacher's personal lives and issues. These storylines added context to these characters, and added drama, but ultimately distracted focus from what this movie should have been. I am all for setting these characters up in ways that would make them more than one-dimensional, but I think the movie would have been better off if the filmmakers gave even more focus to the premise—by having more silly, crazy, and ridiculous things happen between the teachers in the school—and if they gave less focus to the teachers' personal lives.
Pro: Charlie Day & Ice Cube (+4pts)
These two actors were perfect for these two roles. You want someone to comedicaly play a teacher that would be in an absolute panic over a potential fight with a bully? Then you could not ask for a more fitting actor than Charlie Day. You want someone who can play the role of an intimidating bully? I think we all know that Ice Cube can do that.
I had some trouble buying that Ice Cube could have the patience to be a teacher, but this is not a movie to be taken seriously, so he worked as a teacher in the context of this movie. I also thought that the two actors had pretty decent chemistry with one another. This probably had a lot to do with the two actors being perfect for their respective roles, and the movie being written around their relationship with one another, but I think there was still decent chemistry between them. Say what you want about this movie and its issues, but I thought these two actors were entertaining and were exactly what this movie needed for its two primary characters.
Con: The Comedy (-4pts)
Unfortunately, the comedy in this movie left a lot to be desired. It was not terrible, as there were some moderately entertaining moments. However, for the most part, the comedy was chuckle worthy at best. This was such a silly and ridiculous premise, and the comedy had the potential of being great. The number of potentially hilarious moments that could have come out of this premise were seemingly infinite, but it always felt like the filmmakers were holding back. This movie could have been filled with laugh-out-loud moments, but the filmmakers ended up delivering a movie that never quite captured the level of comedy that their film's premise was capable of.
Pro: The Fight (+3pts)
The entire movie built toward the fight between the two teachers, as you would expect from a movie called Fist Fight. I thought that the fight ended a bit too quickly—when considering how much build up there was—but I thought the fight was entertaining while it was happening. I do not want to give any of it away, but it ended up being a lot more than just Ice Cube's character mopping the floor with Charlie Day's character. There was plenty of chaos and humor, each character had their share of moments, and it all felt pretty climactic. Again, I would have liked to have seen it go on for a bit longer, but I found it pretty entertaining while it was happening.
Con: The Ending (-3pts)
I liked the fight while it was happening, but the ending of the fight felt a little cheap. The whole movie was building toward the confrontation between these two characters, so the way the filmmakers ended the fight felt like they took the lazy way out. This is supposed to be a non-spoiler review, so if you want to know who wins and who loses, you can either watch the movie or look up spoilers elsewhere. All I am saying is that the ending of the fight was disappointing, and made all of the build up feel somewhat pointless. Again though, the fight was entertaining while it was happening, so I do not think this hurt the movie too much.
Grade: C- (74pts)
The best thing about this movie was its premise. It was just the right amount of ridiculous for a comedy like this one, and ended up making for a pretty entertaining climax. Unfortunately, the filmmakers seemed to lose sight of the premise. Whether it was done to add filler and increase the run-time, or if the filmmakers simply got distracted when writing the script, the result was a movie that spent more time setting up the main characters’ personal lives than they needed to.
It just was not necessary to give the characters’ personal lives this much attention, and I think the movie would have been better off if the filmmakers stayed focused on the ridiculous nature of the premise. I also thought the comedy was lacking and the fight ended in a way that felt like a disappointment. The comedy was not terrible, as it kept me chuckling occasionally—although I will admit that it is not always hard to do—and I thought Charlie Day and Ice Cube were perfect casting choices for their respective roles. At the end of the day, I would not exactly say that this was a bad movie. It just felt like a movie where the filmmakers had a decent premise, but did not have a well-thought out script to bring that premise to the screen effectively.