Last year we witnessed some of the most iconic exchanges of fists in cinema history, first with Captain America taking on Iron Man in ‘Civil War’, and then we saw Man take on a God in Batman vs Superman. This year we witness ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ writer and star Charlie Day duck and dodge former N.W.A member (and the meanest looking character in any film he’s in) Ice Cube’s fist, in a comedy that was in no way intended to be taken as seriously as most people seem to have received it.
Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) and Strickland (Ice Cube) are teachers at failing Roosevelt High School. The students are running wild because it’s the last day before the summer break, and they’re pulling the most ridiculous pranks on their teachers and fellow students. After Strickland loses his temper with a student trying to prank him, he and Campbell are called before the very stressed out Principal, who is currently spending the day firing a good majority of the staff due to budget cuts. Fearing he might lose his job just as his wife is about to give birth to their second child, Campbell rats on Strickland in an attempt to save his job. Strickland doesn’t take too well to his fellow teacher’s betrayal and challenges Andy to a fight at the end of the school day. Campbell enlists the help of Coach Crawford (Tracy Morgan) and School Counsellor, Holly (Jillian Bell), to help come up with ideas to get out of this fight.
Despite its less than warm reception from a lot of people who’ve seen it, ‘Fist Fight’ was everything I expected from a 91 minute comedy featuring Charlie Day and Ice Cube. Both actors play their characters to their loveable strengths – Ice Cube is a mean looking, no shit taking teacher who has anger issues. Charlie Day is a pushover who has never been in a fight and never really stood up for himself and just wanted to do the right thing for his family. There’s some brilliant exchanges of dialogue between the pair, and as predictable as the film is, it still manages to surprise you in places.
For me, Tracy Morgan stole every scene he was in. It was fantastic to see him back doing what he does best following his horrific car accident in 2014. ‘Fist Fight’ is Morgan’s first film role since the accident, which left him with life threatening injuries and put him in a coma for 2 weeks. In a bout of recent interviews promoting the film, he’s spoken highly of Cube, Day and all the people working on the film and thanked them all for their patience and kindness as he found his feet in front of the cameras again.
The beauty of ‘Fist Fight’ is that it knows it’s an unrealistic and frankly absolutely bonkers premise and therefore it doesn’t take itself too seriously, nor should the audience watching it. The scenes get more ridiculous as the film progresses, and the writers really ramp up the insanity for some of the pranks, but it’s blatantly obvious this is done on purpose to keep the film’s unrealistic premise up. I’ve seen a lot of comments about the lack of story and depth of plot, but at the end of the day, this is a comedy film about one teacher challenging the other to a fight after school and the majority of the plot revolves around the challenged teacher trying to find obscure and ridiculous ways to avoid getting the absolute living shit kicked out of him. It’s not after an Academy Award!
If you’re a fan of either Day or Cube, I would highly recommend giving the film a shot, even if you’re just looking for a quick film that offers up a few good laughs. I think the film is worth your time for a certain scene that takes place at Campbell’s daughter’s talent show alone. That definitely got the most laughs out of the audience at my screening.
DIRECTOR: RICHIE KEEN
STARRING: ICE CUBE, CHARLIE DAY, TRACY MORGAN, JILLIAN BELL, DEAN NORRIS, CHRISTINA HENDRICKS