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Well, this isn’t exactly a movie I was looking forward to. In fact, how was this a movie? I had a little bit of trouble thinking about how someone could pull 90 minutes of story out of this premise, but I like Ice Cube, and Charlie Day has made me laugh before. More than anything, I just wanted to get some laughs, so I wanted to get in the theater and have some chuckles. Let’s talk about Fist Fight!
Fist Fight is directed by Richie Keen and stars Charlie Day and Ice Cube as teachers at a local high school. After a violent incident from Strickland, played by Ice Cube, Andy Campbell, played by Day, violates the number one rule and snitches on another teacher. Strickland is fired, and he challenges Campbell to a fist fight after school at three o’clock in the parking lot.
I just needed a few laughs out of this movie. It didn’t have to be a classic, and it didn’t even have to be memorable. I’ll say that it gave me a few laughs, and it gives those laughs exactly when it needs to. It lives up to its title, and I think the best comedy comes in the final third of the film. Really, I don’t think the jokes are well-written, if they were written at all. They’re mostly rehashed jokes about drugs and sex that we’ve seen before, but it was actually a funny movie simply because of the cast. Most of comedy is in timing, delivery, and environment. I’ll stress that until the day I die. Between Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Jillian Bell, Tracy Morgan, Christina Hendricks, and Kumail Nanjiani (please, Hollywood, give Kumail Nanjiani more roles), the comedy hit most of the time because of delivery, and the situational comedy was awkward enough to work. The best thing about this movie is that I could turn my brain off and laugh. I didn’t need to think about it. I could just flick the off switch and watch all of the gags unfold. This might be a movie worth picking up from Redbox on a summer night with some friends to use as background noise while you eat pizza.
I was worried about this premise being able to soak up 90 minutes, and it looks like I had reasons to worry. I’d say a good chunk of this movie’s dialogue has absolutely nothing to do with the main focus of the story. If it was all improv, like the end credits would suggest, it’s rather impressive that the writer and director most likely turned a camera on the actors and said, “make jokes.” If that’s what really happened, I’m impressed that they could carry the film as far as they did because after that, there’s really no substance to this movie. It’s gag after gag, and there’s about zero focus whatsoever. It even felt stretched out. There are times in this movie where it actually felt like I was sitting through school, and that’s because they were pulling this premise from left to right until there was nothing in the middle. Next, I hated the main character. This guy is so selfish and whiny and pathetic that I wanted nothing to do with him. I wasn’t behind him, so I was actually hoping that Ice Cube was going to knock him out in one punch. He had a baby on the way, and I still could not have cared less. How do you make an audience care? What’s an easy way to raise the stakes? Make the wife pregnant. It’s actually a very simple and overused concept that might even work sometimes despite overuse, but I still hated this guy. He’d rather spend $4,000 on computers than fight Ice Cube. He’d rather do illegal things than get beat up. Even if he does something in this movie that isn’t illegal, it’s still very much worthy of his teaching certificate being taken away. Now I know nobody wants to get beat up, but who would rather spend $4,000 on laptops, possibly putting your family with an expensive baby on the way in severe debt, than get into a fight? I’d fight Connor McGregor for $100 and a double cheeseburger, and our main character would rather spend $4,000 on laptops to look selfish and weak. Oh yeah. There’s also a moment where Ice Cube does that thing that calls back to one of an artists previous works. It’s supposed to be smart and self-aware, but it usually comes off as bland and lazy. If you’ve seen A Million Ways to Die in the West, you might be able to recall when Neil Patrick Harris says, “Challenge Accepted!” It’s the exact same thing, only they used Ice Cube.
Overall, Fist Fight is a throwaway movie that you may check out one night with your friends over the summer. You might not even watch it. You might use it as background noise. You might turn it off because nobody cares. Whatever you do with it, you’re going to forget about it, and it’s just going to be a check mark for anyone who is trying to complete Ice Cube’s filmography. It gets some laughs, and they mainly come in the third act where the actual “fist fight” happens, but they stretched this paper-thin premise out as far as they could. All of these teachers should have lost their teaching licenses, and with the way they act, they would probably never get another job in education. I know this isn’t supposed to be realistic, but they could have at least made the main character likable. He’s insanely selfish, and I was hoping Ice Cube would drop him with one hit. This movie picks a fight with its own premise and loses. I’m going to give Fist Fight a 3/10.
Will you be seeing Fist Fight? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! I should have plenty of big reviews over the next few weeks, so be sure to stay tuned for those! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!