Calling the film “Fist Fight” a well-written comedy is like giving the Swedish Chef from the “Muppets” a cooking show in prime time. The outcome of both decisions is going to result in the audience having a little bit of egg on their face.
"Fist Fight" tells the story of English teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) during the last day of school while the faculty and staff is subject to pranks from graduating seniors. Apart from the pranks going on, the school is facing cutbacks, which means teachers have to do interviews with the administration that then determine if they will be let go. As Campbell is walking back to his class, history teacher Ron Strickland (Ice Cube) asks for his help with a VCR that does not seem to be working.
After it is discovered that students are using a remote to turn the television off Strickland loses his calm. He leaves the classroom and returns with a fire ax. He then proceeds to chop up a student’s desk as a warning to the others that school is a place to learn not to joke. The incident is then relayed to Principal Richard Tyler (Dean Norris). Tyler gives them an option — either one person confess and lose his job, or both lose their jobs. Campbell points out Strickland as the culprit who is promptly fired. After the meeting, Strickland tells Campbell that he wants to meet him in the parking lot at the end of the day to "settle this like men."
On the surface “Fist Fight” had the potential of comedy gold. You have the smaller man vs. the large man. When push comes to shove the smaller man can do something totally unexpected using comedy as his weapon of choice to defuse a dangerous situation. Seeing a person with the presence like Ice Cube would strike fear into me.
One of the scenes that show Strickland as this tough-as-nails-kind-of guy is when he confronts Campbell in the hallway.
“We are going to handle our differences like real men,” Strickland said. Campbell replies, “What differences?” Strickland responds, “You have got a job, and I don’t. Snitches get stitches.“
The movie has several small bits of humor like the principal being followed around by a mariachi band, the horse roaming the hallways and the constant pranks by the senior class. These running gags are funny for about the first 20 minutes of the film, but over time they seem repetitive and way over done. It just gets annoying.
The other problem with this movie is its plot. The writers do not keep it focused in on single direction but takings multiple paths that don’t add any real value. One such path is Campbell’s daughter’s school talent show. Thirty minutes of time is devoted to this non-essential story element.
If you were looking for something to fill your time for a few hours then “Fist Fight” might be the movie that fits your bill. Its humor is ok. There are a few catchy lines, and the fight at the end of the film is well choreographed. However, it is not a movie that audiences are going to be talking about on the car ride home from the theater.
I give “Fist Fight” one and half-mustaches out of five.
Fist Fight is rated R for language throughout, sexual content, nudity and drug material. It runs 91 minutes.
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