Fist Fight Review

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Roosevelt High School is struggling and on the last day of term many of the teachers are going to lose their jobs. Mr Campbell (Charlie Day) thinks he might be safe, until an altercation with scary Mr Strickland (Ice Cube) puts both their jobs in danger.

★★★★

Silly plots in comedies are one thing. Silly has potential. 21 Jump Street’s plot was silly. So was Anchorman’s. So was every single Monty Python movie's. They were all very funny. Stupid is quite another. Fist Fight’s plot is stupid. It doesn’t make logical sense in its own world and it doesn’t compensate for that by offering a deep well of comic potential. It is, at its most basic level, fatally misconceived.

It is, at its most basic level, fatally misconceived.

It takes place in a struggling school on the last day of term. Eternally harried English teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) is worried about losing his job. Extremely strict history teacher Ron Strickland (Ice Cube) is worried about keeping the pupils in line. Through a series of calamities, Campbell loses Strickland his job, which pushes Strickland to the only obvious means of revenge: he challenges Campbell to a fight after school. This ridiculous plot point makes no sense for the Strickland character, such as he is. He is an extreme disciplinarian who tolerates no nonsense from his classes, but suddenly he has the mentality of an idiot school bully. Campbell’s methods of getting out of the fight are cruel and nasty, trying to get Strickland arrested for drugs or beaten up by a giant thug. More importantly, they’re just not funny.

Richie Keen, who’s cut his teeth directing sitcoms such as It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and The Goldbergs, doles everything out haphazardly. There’s no flow to the scenes, just a madcap rush through skits that are all at least a couple of minutes too long and loud rather than smart. Its nasty streak is also too wide. Day, who is more often than not screaming, plays Campbell as a selfish, vicious coward who doesn’t really learn any of the lessons that he might. You might imagine from the set-up that it would conclude that violence is never the answer. Apparently, in this case, it is. Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

All the amusement value of a smack in the mouth.