Hot Take: You’re in and out so quickly, you might not even mind how below average this comedy ends up being. We’re pretty sure Betsy DeVos thinks Fist Fight is a documentary, though.
If Fist Fight proves anything, partnering a funny cast with a generally unfunny script will not achieve high marks. Proven comic actors Charlie Day, Ice Cube (Yes, he’s versatile enough to call him a comic actor… don’t believe me? Watch Friday), Jillian Bell, Tracy Morgan, Kumail Nanjiani, Christina Hendricks and Dean Norris try to carry a one-trick pony (21st century schools are out of control!) to the finish line in this excessively vulgar 91 minute dick joke. Okay, maybe the whole thing isn’t a dick joke but holy shit, there are a lot of dick jokes in this movie.
There are a few laughs (mostly provided by Tracy Morgan as Coach Crawford, one of the many incompetent teachers at fictional Roosevelt High School) but you could also just saw few laughs as the movie rarely delivers a punchline that isn’t cringe-worthy. For example, early in the movie, Mr. Campbell (Charlie Day) bursts into a stall in the bathroom of the school when he hears a student having a sexual conversation. We’re treated to a student masturbating to a tablet. The student refuses to stop. Campbell (emblazoned with Day’s screechy comic style) frantically rambles to get the student to stop. Another teacher — Miss Monet (Christina Hendricks) — walks in on the two in a scene that would fit in an episode of Three’s Company if only Three’s Company turned up the vulgarity three notches as she mistakes Campbell’s attempts to stop the student as a sexual encounter between the two. I guess overhearing “The dick touching will stop now” might do that.
That’s the gist of the entire movie. Day screeches through one comic bit to the next. Ice Cube makes angry faces and scares both the teachers and students around him. Bell says ridiculous, unfunny things. Morgan shows her how to say ridiculous, funny things. The rest of the cast does their best to work with a script bereft of laughter in a build up to a fist fight between Cube’s Mr. Strickland, a no-nonsense history teacher with an anger problem, and Day’s Mr. Campbell, a push-over English teacher who is desperately afraid of losing his job on the last day of school. Think Three O’Clock High… with teachers… and much less humor.
This generally unfunny movie at least has a rapid pace. The third act might actually be the best part of Fist Fight, too. So, at least it builds to something. The fight between Day and Ice Cube eventually goes off and is as ridiculous as you’d expect. If you’re an ardent Day or Cube fan or even one of the supporting cast members, this might be worth a watch depending on how desperate you are for entertainment. Don’t go out of your way to see it otherwise. If you have cable, this should be on an endless loop on one of your channels in the next year or so. If it’s not a premium channel, it’ll be entertaining just to see how short the movie is as they splice their way around all of the cursing or how many different words they can replace the “f” word with if they decide to go the voiceover route.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Tracy Morgan
They should have Morgan on call for patients about to receive news that they only have 3 months to live because I’m pretty sure he can make anything funny. He pulls a rabbit out of a hat with his comedic timing in Fist Fight.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Fuck, This Movie Is Vulgar
Could Fist Fight be the most profanity-laced film of 2017? Hell, it could be the most profanity-laced film of the 2000s. (South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut came out in 1999.)
- The Screech of Day
Day’s style works in small doses in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. It also works to a lesser degree in Horrible Bosses. That’s probably maximum capacity for Day as the amount of screen time devoted to him in Fist Fight is overwhelming and eventually exhausting.