Fist Fight Movie Review
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When it comes to comedies, Ice Cube’s success has always been tied to the chemistry between he and his costars. Give him Chris Tucker or Mike Epps and you’ve probably got a recipe for success, especially if you let him thrive with a strong R-rating. Start watering down the strong language in order to present a more conservative approach in order to score a PG-13 rating and that’s where things become a little muddied. Not even a big name, extremely marketable star like Kevin Hart, for example, can wipe away the mirage of mediocrity. At least on the surface, lessons have been learned with his latest comedy, Fist Fight.
Two teachers, Ron (Ice Cube) and Andy (Charlie Day) have endured a full school year of various struggles with only several hours left before escaping to well deserved summer breaks. Not only does the teaching body have to deal with unruly high-schoolers with all thoughts focused on the summer, they’re also facing an uncertain future due to job cuts that are being announced throughout the day. Everyone has seemingly reached his or her breaking point. With so many things in motion, tensions reach a boiling point when a classroom disagreement leads to an after school showdown of fists. The thing is, it’s the teachers and not the students that are the ones coming to blows. Fist Fight hopes to get a few comical jabs in to become the new box office champion.
Let’s start off with the first hurdle. That would be the actor that shares the screen with Ice Cube (Ride Along (2014)). In a nice change of pace, Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses (2011)) is tasked with being the comic relief by bringing a lighter side and more a slapstick style of personality to play opposite of roughneck persona that Cube’s characters usually portray. Well, I’m pleased to report that these two nailed it in bringing balance and levity to their characters. These two are great together in a fun and surprising way. It might be the best “buddy” comedy that Ice Cube has done in several years. Sorry Kevin. But hey, you found a new partner in Dwayne Johnson anyway.
The second hurdle is the supporting cast. What good is have two strong leads if you can’t change it up a bit throughout to offer more than one dimension of comedy. Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street (2014)) is awesome as the VERY inappropriate teacher, Holly. She really thrives in her role bringing entertaining moments throughout. Then there’s the frustrated beyond words principal played by Dean Norris (AMC’s Breaking Bad). You just feel for this guy for what he has to put up with. Throw in a little Tracey Morgan (NBC’s 30 Rock), Christina Hendricks (AMC’s Mad Men) and Kumail Nanjiani (HBO’s Silicon Valley) and you’ve got a great foundation on which to build a successful comedy.
The final hurdle comes in the of a business risk; the ever popular, always tricky MPAA game. Warner Bros. goes all in with non-watered down R-rating in the hopes of pulling in a more mature (yet immature) audience versus playing it safe to appease the more reserved moviegoers. There’s zero doubt that director Richie Keen was more than willing to roll those NSFW dice with this feature. And given the fact that he already had a comfortable working relationship with Charlie Day since he has directed several episodes of FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (which Day also stars in), he knew how to get the most out of him.
Fist Fight obviously won’t be for everyone. Some might claim that it’s low brow, while others may state that it’s just childish locker room humor. I found this to be a refreshingly funny and surprisingly well crafted comedy that just might appeal to wide rage of fans. Heck, I know for a fact that there are some teachers out there that will say that much of the plot isn’t far from the truth if they’re being a 100% honest. And it’s in the silly outlandish situations that most will find themselves giggling the most. As long as punchy comedies are your cup of tea, I say this is good day to head to the theater.