Review: fist fight (2017)

fist fight (2017)

Directed by: Richie Keen | 91 minutes | comedy | Actors: Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Dean Norris, Christina Hendricks, Kumail Nanjiani, Dennis Haysbert, JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Alexa Nisenson, Stephnie Weir, Kym Whitley

Directors often find their roots in television, it is a good medium to start as a starting filmmaker. Richie Keen, for example, made enough of a splash with a handful of episodes of the comedy series “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and got the chance to show his first real movie to the general public. Keen once again worked with the lead actor from the aforementioned series, Charlie Day, and lashes out with “Fist Fight.” But can Keen hit his target?

In ‘Fist Fight’ we follow teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day), a purebred sissy with a high-pitched voice. He is cowardly, lies regularly and tries to get out of every situation to the detriment of others. The situation in question is a squabble between the nervous English teacher herself and the hot-tempered history teacher Strickland (Ice Cube). Circumstances make the tantrum challenge Campbell to a fight after school, he’ll even be waiting for him in the school yard. Fortunately for Andy, this all takes place at the beginning of the day, so he has all day to talk his way out of it, lie and run away. However, more complications come into play. For example, the school board is cutting back considerably and Campbell may be out of a job at the end of the day. The timing for that is horrendous, because his wife Maggie (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) is heavily pregnant and should have given birth three days ago. As if that weren’t enough, Andy has promised his daughter (Alexa Nisenson) to enter a talent show at her school. Was it already reported that it is also the last day of school and all senior students are constantly playing silly jokes?

‘Fist Fight’ has a lot of subplots. That is also necessary, because the main story has so little to do that it could use some filling. In the end, they all come down to the same thing: Andy Campbell is a petty scaredy-cat and must stand up for himself and take responsibility for his actions. However, the character is so obnoxious and petty that the audience can barely identify with it. Strickland, despite his anger issues, is then a lot more charismatic and much more interesting to follow. Especially if it is taken into account that we are dealing here with a teacher who has a warm heart for education and who works hard against the board to actually make the school better. On paper this seems like an interesting role, but Ice Cube does his usual “angry man routine”, something that has been performed by him a bit too often and better.

Now ‘Fist Fight’ should not be expected to become a commentary on the current education system in America. Most of all, you have to laugh. But there too the plan is almost completely missed. As said, Campbell is more annoying than entertaining, but his friends and colleagues let go of any hope of a good secondary character. Tracy Morgan makes some vague, unfunny sports references as coach Crawford and Jillian Bell is extremely awkward as Holly; who constantly tries to share the bed with students. Dean Norris (“Breaking Bad”) is a fun find as the headmaster but more of a scream than a joke. The low point, however, is Christina Hendriks, the French teacher (that’s still sexy, isn’t it?) who somehow seems very murderous. The why remains a mystery.

A comedy that isn’t funny. Is there really nothing to laugh about in ‘Fist Fight’? Nota bene the subplot with the daughter makes for the biggest laugh, the talent show is easily the best scene in the film. A few small sentences can count on a chuckle and go ahead, Ice Cube’s routine always works a bit. Most, however, remain painfully humorless. ‘Fist Fight’ is certainly not a direct hit.

Comments are closed.