While I wouldn’t begin to argue that it’s been a great year for movies, there were still some really good movies released in 2017.
Unfortunately, there were also some really bad ones.
Which do you think Fist Fight was?
If you answered really bad, congratulations!
Actually, I don’t think anyone was expecting Fist Fight to be a classic or anything like that. Basically, the film is about a conflict between two teachers, a conflict that seems destined to end with the event promised by the title. The two teachers are played by Ice Cube and Charlie Day. Of course, in the movie, they have different name but it doesn’t matter. Neither character has an identity outside of the actor who plays him. Charlie Day is nerdy and quick to yell. Ice Cube is tough and intimidating and not the type to back down from a fight.
Now, at the risk of losing all credibility, I’m going to be honest about something. When I first saw the trailer for Fist Fight, I thought it might not be as bad as it turned out to be. Charlie Day is hilarious on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. One of the more appealing things about Ice Cube is his willingness to poke fun at his tough guy image. More often than not, I tend to like movies about teachers acting like children because, when I was in school, I always suspected that was the way teachers actually behaved when they were safely in the teacher’s lounge. Charlie Day desperately running around the school, hyperventilating while Ice Cube pops up to remind him that they have a fist fight scheduled? Seriously, it sounded like it could be funny in a dumb way.
Well, I was wrong. Fist Fight is one of the most painfully unfunny films that I’ve ever seen. This is a movie that should have been focused on one thing: the fist fight at the end of the day. The entire movie should have been Charlie Day preparing for a fight that he knows he can’t possibly win. Instead, the movie kept getting distracted with unnecessary subplots. For instance, because it’s the last day before summer, all of the students are pulling pranks on their teachers. In fact, the entire student body is out-of-control. But who cares? We’re here to see Charlie Day try to throw a punch at Ice Cube. We don’t care about a bunch of obnoxious students pulling pranks that seem like they were directly lifted from a Crown International high school movie. If we want to see that, we can rewatch The Pom Pom Girls or Joy of Sex. And if we want to watch a teacher stand up to his students, we can watch Class of 1984.
The film is full of funny people but it never really takes advantage of them. Actors like Tracy Morgan, Kumail Nanjiani, and Christina Hendricks pop up but just as quickly disappear. Charlie Day does his best but the level of writing never rises to the level of It’s Sunny In Philadelphia. (I personally would love to see “The Gang Gets In A Fist Fight With Ice Cube.”) Compared to Fist Fight, even something like Horrible Bosses looks like nuanced and subversive humor. There’s a lot of screeching in Fist Fight but very little of it is funny.