Fist Fight SPOILER-FREE Review
Leading up to seeing the movie, I haven't really known what to think of Fist Fight. I really like Charlie Day. I think It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a fantastic show, and he's excellent on it. I also love Ice Cube. He's found his stride with his explosive personality and hard-ass screen presence that really works in films like 21 Jump Street. So I was really excited to see these two work together in a comedy. However, I haven't been a huge fan of the trailers. I got a couple chuckles out of them, but they never really stood out to me as looking great. But it was the redband trailer that convinced me to check this movie out. It was by far the best trailer, despite it not being gut-bustingly funny. This being a R-rated sold me on the film, because I knew it had the potential to go to places that could make this film really funny. I don't know if I would have seen it had it been PG-13. So I walked into this movie hopeful that I would have a good time, but not exactly sure of what to expect. Ultimately, Fist Fight definitely has laughs, but it's not as consistently funny as you would want with a comedy.
After an incident happens on the last day of school, high school teacher Andy Campbell (Day) rats on Strickland (Ice Cube), causing Strickland to lose his job. As a result, he challenges Campbell to a fist fight after school, forcing Campbell to do everything in his power to avoid the fight.
There are really two parts to this movie. One revolves around teachers who are absolutely fed up with the students who have taken over their school, and the other focuses on the lead-up to Campbell and Strickland's fight. I found the former to be the funnier of the two. The first twenty or so minutes of the movie is absolutely hysterical. It's the last day of school, so you see all the seniors pulling pranks and disrespecting the school, and it was hilarious. Fist Fight came charging out of the gate, but then it slowed down as soon as the main plot was introduced. It lost a lot of its momentum and drive, and came to a halt. There were still some good lines and funny moments, but it wasn't nearly as overwhelmingly funny as the beginning had been. Charlie Day and Ice Cube are exactly as you expect them to be in this movie. They didn't really go outside of their typecasted personalities, but I don't think this movie necessarily needed them to. They just played who they normally played, and it was fine. I will say that Ice Cube did shine more than Day, probably because he's played this type of character so many times before that he's perfected it.
Outside of the first twenty minutes, there aren't many great, stand-out moments. There's a scene involving a talent show in the middle of the movie that had me cracking up, and the fight itself at the end is fantastic. Had the fight not been as crazy or insane as it was, I think I would've ultimately resented the movie. While the build-up to the fight was dull, the fight itself is excellent. It's funny, it's brutal, and it completely defies your expectations. My friend whispered to me near the end "I bet they don't even fight", and he was sure as hell was wrong. I don't consider the fact that they fight a spoiler, because that's the point of the movie. I just wanted to assure you that they do in fact fight, and it is worth the investment. While Day and Ice Cube are both really good in their roles, some of the supporting cast wasn't as much. Tracy Morgan was fine, but he wasn't anything special. It was great to see him on screen again, but he didn't really contribute anything much to the film other than a few sparse laughs. Dean Norris has a couple of scenes as the school's principal. I loved him on Breaking Bad, but this role could've been played by anyone. He wasn't able to add any of his own style or his fantastic comedic timing that he gave us on the show. My real problem came from Jillian Bell. Whenever I see her pop up in movies, she always seems to drag it down. She was pretty bad in 22 Jump Street. She was probably one of the worst parts of Office Christmas Party. And she does it again here. I don't find her particularly funny, and I usually just cringe through her jokes. She doesn't work for me, and I want to see less of her.
Ultimately, Fist Fight is a mixed bag. It starts off strong for the first twenty or so minutes, but then quickly loses steam. It does have a great scene in the middle, and the fight at the end makes the whole thing worth it. Charlie Day and Ice Cube play their typecasts, and it works fine. Ice Cube does stand out more than Day, however, and is probably this film's saving grace. The supporting cast is okay. Dean Norris and Tracy Morgan are fine, but don't really add anything to the movie. However, Jillian Bell stands out as being one of the worse parts of this movie. The main problem with Fist Fight is that it's not funny enough. Like I said before, this movie just loses its momentum and it stops being funny. It's sandwiched by great parts, but it doesn't do enough to make up for the parts that aren't funny. A comedy's single most important job is to make you laugh, and I didn't laugh enough. Had the film done a better job of building the anticipation around the fight, and gave us better, more quality supporting characters, I think this could've been an outstanding comedy. Unfortunately, that's not what we got here.
What do you think? Have you seen Fist Fight? Did you like the film? Leave your (spoiler-free) thoughts in the comments section below.
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