Fist Fight full movie review - Fist Fight is Occasionally Funny but It's Also Too Erratic to Land Consistent Comedic Punches
I didn't have huge hopes for Fist Fight but there was some promise there. Most people recognize/love Charlie Day from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia but I know him from one of my favourite R-rated comedies, Horrible Bosses.
When it comes to movies, his results are largely more mixed (excluding the LEGO movie) but he's still a funny guy. Ice Cube can be very funny in the right role, he's very much an underrated part of the 21 Jump Street movies. The premise wasn't revolutionary but I could see how they could make a solid comedy out of it. What kid in school wouldn't have enjoyed seeing 2 of their teachers trying to beat the crap out of each other? I tried to look past the bad reviews and hope for the best.
*Minor Spoilers Ahead* It's the last day of school before summer vacation and the teachers at the local high school can't wait for it to be over. This day is known as Senior Prank Day and the kids are constantly screwing with their teachers. Some of the pranks are simple (nasty drawings on the board) and some of them are more advanced (letting a horse that's high on drugs run through the halls). This is the least of Andy Campbell's (Charlie Day) problems. His wife is very pregnant, his young daughter has a talent show to do where he's part of the act. Add in his inappropriate co-workers/friends Holly (Jillian Bell) and Coach Crawford (Tracy Morgan) and the fact he's up for a review by Principal Tyler (Dean Norris). He's got way too much on his plate already so when a misunderstanding comes up with another teacher Strickland (Ice Cube) and it leads to Strickland losing his job, he's challenged to a fight after school. He initially thinks Strickland is joking but he's soon clued into the fact that the situation is very real and there's no escape from his impending doom after school.
The biggest question with any comedy is that is it funny? My answer for this one is that Fist Fight is funny intermittently but it loses momentum as quickly as it gains it. Most of the laughs I got were from quick one-liners or throwaway gags (most of the jokes are of the improv variety so it makes sense) but almost none of my chuckles came from anything related to the plot. Fist Fight could have been at least semi-realistic but they choose to abandon almost any kind of logic. The lengths that Andy bungles this dilemma are absolutely ridiculous but the movie requires that line of thinking to work. If this situation were to happen in real life, all it would take is Strickland threatening Andy's life and the police would have to be involved immediately. But instead of getting help from his colleagues, the principal, the security team at the school or the cops, he tries to plant drugs in Strickland's class to get him arrested. It was frustrating to watch and while I understand that rational thinking would have caused problems overall, unless you're a kid, you'll be recognizing plot hole after plot hole in Fist Fight.
The other thing this movie needed to do was to give us a hero that you wanted to root for. The problem with Andy is that he only looks good compared to Strickland because Strickland is a violent psychopath. Andy is a wimp, he lacks any kind of backbone and he's not even upfront about anything he does. He's constantly overthinking everything and he's so underhanded that when the fight started I was rooting for him to get his @$$ kicked. By the time that he predictably started to stand up for himself, I was so tired of watching Charlie Day flail all over the place that it was too late. The other thing is that without spoiling who wins, he doesn't even fight fair. He pulls cheap crap like biting, using weapons and kicking Strickland in the groin. You're supposed to respect him more as the fight goes on and his way of fighting had the opposite effect on me.
The acting in Fist Fight is okay, I was surprised by who were the most consistent performers in the cast. I actually thought Ice Cube carried his half of the movie better, he's largely doing what he does in most comedies but he was the funnier actor of the two. Charlie Day is talented and funny but he spent most of this movie just mugging his way through it. I hope the next one will be the breakout one for him because this wasn't it. I like Jillian Bell in some stuff but this wasn't one of her best performances. Her character just comes off as creepy and one-note. Dean Norris was one of the funnier actors, he's not known for comedy but his tired and overwhelmed expression was perfect. Tracy Morgan was okay and why does Christina Hendricks keep ending up in mediocre comedies? She's talented and beautiful but between this and Bad Santa 2, maybe she needs a better agent?
This movie was pretty forgettable in the end. I wanted to give it extra points, it was funny at the beginning but it slowed down in the middle and I almost completely gave up at the end. The actual fight had a couple of chuckle-worthy moments but it was too little too late. It's hard to talk about movies that are just kind of middling. I would recommend skipping this, both Charlie Day and Ice Cube have better movies out there, go watch those instead.