Ah, the last day of the school year. A time to clean out your locker, turn in your books and get ready for the summer. Unless you’re a student at the high school featured in the new film “Fist Fight.” Then it’s a time to rebel.
Andy (Charlie Day) is an English teacher whose last day of school starts with a student parked in his parking spot. Andy is an expectant father and is worried that school budget cuts may affect his job. Andy is pretty easy going and it’s easy to root for him. Then there is Strickland (Ice Cube – wait, is that right? Is “Ice Cube” all inclusive? Is “Ice” his first name and “Cube” his last?” How about if I call him O’Shea Jackson?). Strickland is a no-nonsense teacher who’s not afraid to challenge his students. Physically. When a classroom altercation gets reported to the principal, Andy inadvertently gets Strickland fired. Angered, the man challenges Andy to a fight after school. Place your bets.
I don’t know what it is about Hollywood and films set in high school. From “3 O’clock High” to “Big Bully,” it seems like kids (and teachers) can’t get along. And who would want to in this school. It’s one thing to pull a few pranks but what the students are doing here would normally result in criminal records. Especially in a world were bullying is prevalent. Have the principal followed around all day by a Mariachi band? Funny. Destroy his car? Jail.
The story is the result of a script by two first-time feature writers and it shows. Jokes, or what are supposed to be jokes, flow quickly and some hit their mark. But many more miss it. When Charlie Day can’t make you laugh you have a serious problem with your material. Day tries hard, as does Mr. Cube (how’s that?) but they needed better dialogue. The fact that Cube is named Strickland makes me wonder if he’s named after the bald teacher that terrorized Marty McFly in “Back to the Future.” Though I wonder if the writers were that clever.
On the plus side, Charlie Day does well in a comedy he’s there to carry and it’s nice to see Tracy Morgan back on the big screen.