The high school world has been a fertile ground for well-received comedies in decades past. Fist Fight will not be joining that list.
What at the most could maybe have worked as a subplot in a one-off episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (“The Gang Teaches High School”?) does not as a feature, especially one so pedestrian and misguided.
The film’s premise begins on the last day of School and also Senior Prank Day where an awkward teacher, Mr, Campbell (Charlie Day) is stuck helping a short-tempered Mr. Strickland (Ice Cube) with the latter classroom VCR when they find that the trouble is coming a student meddling with it from a smart phone app. Strickland destroys the phone. The kid then gets someone else’s phone and keeps going, and Strickland takes a fire axe to the desk.
Both get brought before Principal Taylor (Dean Norris). Campbell tells the truth about what happened and Strickland is fired. When they leave the office, Ice Cube challenges the sneaky teacher to a ‘fist fight’ after school. In the end, Campbell spends his time in-between classes, freaking out and trying to find ways around it.
From start to finish, it’s just one wrong move after another. Let’s just set aside the fact that it’s the 21st century; this is not how civilized people handle their differences and should not be condoned. The prank day element has no place here, in fact it would’ve been best for the students to play as minimal a role in the story as possible. They are extremely obnoxious and even worse, it completely undercuts what should have been a major theme. At best, they are immature and at worst, they are sociopathic and the displays of predatory conduct by the teacher characters makes it abundantly clear that these people should not be in positions of authority. But by making the students even bigger monsters, the film normalizes them and makes it seem like this is the kind of teacher that is needed in this day and age, when it is actually trying to make the very opposite point.
There are no memorable moments of humor or otherwise in Fist Fight. Nobody’s actions make any sort of sense. Christina Hendricks is utterly wasted, showing up at very brief fleeting moments to do absolutely nothing, except just be slightly creepy for no reason. The other main actors are all in their stock personas, so at the very least huge fans of them aren’t going to be too disappointed. And the main event really isn’t much of one at all. Something like this should have been the live action equivalent to a Peter Griffin vs. Chicken fight.
Fist Fight is as wrongheaded as you can get. This is one that should’ve been KO’ed earlier in development.