Fist Fight (2017)

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“Well that’s not good.”

How is it that a comedy titled Fist Fight sets up a stunted story without the power to deliver a single punchline through its paper-thin premise? And further more, why does it have to be so damn mean-spirited? There’s nothing positive about these people or this world, suggesting that being feared and inspiring dread in those you meet is supposed to be seen as beneficial. Fist Fight is just plain bad, pinning down its audience like a playground tormentor pulling the old “stop hitting yourself” for a drawn-out 91 minutes. I counted the seconds waiting for the bell to ring and signal the end of this hellish recess.

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For starters, the film is full of comedians who aren’t really actors. They all have their respective shtick that they riff off of, but that’s about all they can really do. Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) is the faculty pipsqueak, a pushover whose ringing voice only registers in the most deafening levels. He’s friends with Coach Crawford (Tracy Morgan) and Holly (Jillian Bell), a teacher lusting after a student and says the indefensible line, “I want that teenage d***.” In case you were wondering, pedophilia isn’t funny, nor would it be funny in a quality comedy. It’s the last day of school and the resident hardass Strickland (Ice Cube) has had it with all of the senior pranks. He loses it in class, Andy rats him out for the sake of securing his own job, and a high-noon beat down is scheduled for the end of the day in the parking lot. Fist Fight has no build, no tension, no smarts in its banter, and as much ambition as the kid sleeping in the back of the classroom.

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As Strickland, Ice Cube gives a career worst performance, going overboard and sinking almost immediately. He sneers, jeers, twists his brow and upturns his lip, all while brandishing a baseball bat like a poor man’s Jim Belushi in 1987’s The Principal. Charlie Day isn’t much better either, constantly yelling his dialogue as if he’s imitating the famous “voice immodulationSNL sketchThe two lack any sort of chemistry, and although I’d have to admit that two scenes made me laugh, they still contributed to a fundamentally flawed sense of humor. Endless penis jokes, a little girl cursing like a sailor, downright obscene affection for minors. I wish the writers had gotten in a fight with each other, if only to either knock some sense into the script or to deliver the K.O. punch that would’ve kept this from being made in the first place.

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Richie Keen, whose decent direction makes the most out of a lamentable screenplay, patterns his film in the same spirit as a lot of late 80’s and early 90’s movies. Most of those were hokey, misguided attempts at satirical commentary on the public schooling system. Keen’s movie is basically an updated and scene for scene remake of 87’s Three O’Clock High with a watered down antagonistic relationship between the leads that’s reminiscent of the 1996 Tom Arnold and Rick Moranis vehicle Big BullyThose aren’t great films to draw inspiration from, although they are somewhat superior to this flyweight affair. When push comes to shove, Fist Fight stands in the corner, and is the movie equivalent of the funny bone; it hurts, and there’s nothing all that hilarious about it.

“This is a bad joke.”

Rating: 1 out of 5

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