Fist Fight: Funny but...
Fist Fight was a laugh riot that I expected to have been written by the team behind It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It’s crass and wholly ridiculous. Director Richie Keen has directed a few episodes of the show as well as other comedies but the writing team doesn’t have any overlap.
Ice Cube plays Strickland, he is no nonsense, he hates fancy coffee, and he is an intimidating but ultimately caring teacher. “I don’t need to be liked, I need to educate” he says. Charlie Day plays Andy Campbell the soft-spoken, sensitive husband and father who feels pressure to support his family. He tells a room full of students, “For some of you, this will be the last English class you take and words have meaning”.
It is the end of the school year and tensions are high: from cutbacks by the educational institution to the multitude of senior pranks. Strickland is fired and wants to take revenge on Campbell by fighting him. Laughs ensue as we watch Campbell try any way he can think of to get out of the inevitable beatdown while also balancing his personal life. For as much as this is a sort of odd-couple buddy-comedy type of film we only learn about Campbell’s private life including that his own daughter thinks he is a wuss. Of course he makes up for this a little by assisting in a performance with her to my favorite hit from 2015, Big Sean’s “I Don’t Fuck With You”.
With product placement (Honda Fit), a pro-teacher message, and some surprising cameos, Fist Fight isn’t made to be a hit. There’s something missing that keeps this comedy from creating any emotional manipulation beyond laughs. Maybe it was that Holly, the guidance counselor, was a combination of cringe and laughs. Her attraction to students (though she claims she wouldn’t do anything until they’re 18) really didn’t sit well and while I laughed at many of her jokes “I don’t do drugs at school, I do them before school” I couldn’t get past this problematic element.
If you’re looking for a laugh this film has it just don’t expect much else.