A good comedy is hard to come by these days, with there being a distinct lack of anything truly able to conjure up belly laugh after belly laugh often enough. Television shows often present the right formula, but when it comes to film – especially with TV actors jumping over to the big screen – it never quite cuts the mustard. One such film in question is Fist Fight, the latest film from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia scribe Richie Keen, with its star Charlie Day taking the lead role.
It’s the last day of school at Roosevelt High School and the kids are as ever up to their usual tricks in playing ridiculous pranks and making the teachers’ lives hell. One such teacher praying for the school bell is Andy Campbell, one of the most mild-mannered teachers around and one whose day is about to get a whole lot worse.
In an altercation with unhinged and massively intimidating history teacher Ron Strickland, it soon transpires that Strickland’s job is terminated after he is thrown under the bus by Andy after an incident in class involving an axe and a pupil. With Strickland out for revenge, he challenges Andy to a fist fight at the end of school, leading to the former looking to find a way to get out of a guaranteed pounding. Aided by fellow teachers Holly (Jillian Bell) and Coach Crawford (Tracey Morgan), Andy must come up with a plan before 3 o’clock or he is in for one hell of a beating.
Let’s be honest, Charlie Day is a marmite kind of comedian. You either watch him with adoration when he goes off on a loudmouth tirade or you simply cannot stand him, and Fist Fight is a similar sort of animal. After all, here is a film that relies upon familiar school playground jokes and tropes throughout, leaving little room for surprise and promising an experience that we’ve likely seen plenty of times before. There are dick jokes, masturbation in the bathroom moments and put-downs between pupils and teachers that may well remind you of your own mundane school days. All wedged in-between Ice Cube hurling abuse at Charlie Day. Tick any boxes? At all?
Fist Fight isn’t all that awful though, with some entertainment mustered up from various cast members. While Tracey Morgan may well annoy you so much that you need to head back to 30 Rock to actually enjoy him again, the likes of Day, Ice Cube and standout Jillian Bell do muster up some laughs. Cube’s sheer over-the-top intimidation and stress levels often bring about a wry smile or chuckle and Day is hard not to root for in any situation. As for Bell, she is certainly MVP as she whisks her way through a role where she constantly eyes up the football team and shows no disregard towards trying out the drugs being handed out around campus. She is often side-splitting and is further proof that at current the women in comedy are at the top of their game. It’s a shame though that the female side is let down by a barely-present Christina Hendricks who appears in yet another non-sensical and pointless throwaway role.
Put simply, Fist Fight brings very little new to the table and delivers a handful of laughs that are not quite enough to sustain the movie’s short duration. While Day, Cube and Bell are a likeable trio within the movie, the scenarios they are put into and indeed the dialogue itself is not representative of what we would regard as a ‘great’ comedy. Chances are, by the time the fist fight actually arrives you’ll have head home before the bell or even taken preference to the bike sheds.
Fist Fight is out in UK cinemas now.