It’s difficult to make a truly funny and original comedy these days. Most comedic films being put out are sequels to hits from over a decade ago, like Zoolander 2 and Bad Santa 2. The best laughs can be found on TV shows or web series. Granted there have been some great comedies in recent years like Bridesmaids and 21 Jump Street. Fist Fight is a new comedy that isn’t on par with the likes of the original Hangover movie, however it was surprisingly funny given that it’s premise was expected to be a little lackluster.
When a high school english teacher (Charlie Day) causes his colleague (Ice Cube) to lose his job, the latter challenges the former to a fight in the parking lot at the end of the day. Through some deceitful means and a broken public school system, he tries to avoid the inevitable after school beatdown.
All the marketing for this movie made it clear that it had one thing to deliver on: an epic brawl between Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Ice Cube (Friday). The fight in the final act is definitely one of two highlights of the film, which lets both actors comedic strengths shine in an over the top throw down. Ice Cube’s character’s underlying reason for wanting to fight gives the confrontation a bit more motivation than just it’s comedic implications. Inventive uses of GoPro style camera angles are also welcome to give this film a little creative composition work. It’s definitely not a one punch and done type of scene. It’s played out for a solid chunk of time and does a good job of keeping audiences in suspense of who will come out victorious.
The first two acts are all over the place in terms of what works and what doesn’t. The story is set in a high school where the students have no respect for authority and are constantly giving the teachers trouble. The faculty leaves much to be desired as well, with characters like the principal (Dean Norris, Breaking Bad) caring about an easy job more than the quality of education the students are getting and the guidance counsellor (Jillian Bell, Workaholics) who has an inappropriate eye on a lot of the students. Many of the jokes are at the expense of a broken public school system, taking jabs at millennial attitudes and drug issues amongst teens. Most of these work, but the movie loses some of it’s claim when it constantly makes jokes in poor taste about teachers bedding their students. The most consistently funny character is the coach played by Tracy Morgan, which serves as a nice return to form for him since his near-fatal accident.
All in all Fist Fight is a B-grade comedy that stands above most of the strife pushed out by studios these days. It’s not a perfect comedy or a movie that everyone needs to rush to theaters to see immediately, but it’s definitely funnier than expected and has a underlying message that’s definitely worth checking out.