Starring: Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Christina Hendricks, Dean Norris, Kumail Nanjiani, Dennis Haysbert, JoAnna Garcia, Kym Whitley.
Year Of Release: 2017
Certificate: 15 (UK)/PG-13 (US)
Runtime: 91 Minutes
Director: Richie Keen
Writer(s): Van Robinchaux and Evan Susser
Synopsis: “When one school teacher gets the other fired, he is challenged to an after-school fight.” IMDB
Ice Cube, Charlie Day, fighting… This film had my attention from the second it was announced, the premise is so ridiculous I just had to see it. I was going to write a quick breakdown of the story like we normally do in reviews, but in all honesty the IMDB synopsis “When one school teacher gets the other fired, he is challenged to an after-school fight.” is completely accurate.
Since I started this site nearly 6 years ago, I have been begging for more 90 minute comedy films, they seem to be becoming few and far between. More aiming for the 100+ minute Dramedy, than the ore classical out-and-out comedy, this is where Fist Fight excels for me, 90 minutes of just laugh after laugh, big belly laughs too with great giggles sprinkled in-between. Robinchaux and Susser do a great job of keeping the laughs rolling. They don’t try too hard to force a deeper meaning or subtext, the film is purely written to make you laugh yourself into submission and they deliver that. Be it Ice Cube destroying a table with axe, Charlie Day having hilarious repartee with Jillian Bell or Tracy Morgan to the outright slapstick humour the film is a laugh a minute from the get go.
Any film that has Ice Cube and Charlie Day in, you know the casting team has the nail on the head, which is no surprise given that Rich Delia has worked on “Prisoners”, “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Don’t Breathe”. Ice Cube has got his angry militant character down to a T, he has perfect the comedic aggressor in recent years, that rivalled up against in my opinion one of the greatest comedic actors in the business Charlie Day is a recipe for brilliance. Day has timing like the all-time greats and he will be remembered for his timing and execution, his quips and jokes land with such precision it feels like they are his natural words and not those of a script. Along with Cube and Day, the support cast are also brilliant, especially Jillian Bell and Tracy Morgan who alone is worth the price of admission, you get everything you expect from Morgan which is not a bad thing, he has played the same character for the most of his career yet still continues to deliver doing so.
The performances mentioned are the strongest point of the film, not to say everything or anything else is bad, they just serve to carry the film in the most hilarious way. From the short tempered Stickland (Cube) to the mild mannered Campbell (Day) the film draws on the specialities of both culminating in one of the funniest films of the past few years. The only real downfall in the cast is Christina Hendricks as Miss Monet, she just doesn’t fit into the film at all, even in such a ridiculous premise her character feels so out of place, even with her miniscule screen-time she sticks out like a sore thumb.
Director Richie Keen draws heavily on his sitcom experience from working on “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”, “Sirens” and “The Goldbergs” has some big hitters under his belt before stepping up to his feature film debut. Using what he has learnt from making sitcoms, meaning the film does have a little sitcom vibe about it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing given how far that medium has came in recent years. Some of the set pieces give the air of a sitcom, but that doesn’t take away from the film, it still comes across as a well fleshed out film showing that Keen has transitioned from TV to film in one quick but successful step.
Overall, the film is a great 90 minute laugh-fest, that will have you curled over in your seat holding your stomach. While I said the at the top of the review “don’t try too hard to force a deeper meaning or subtext”, there is a bit of a moral to take from the film that we need to look after teachers and schools, however it is more of a take if you will moral. The film may waiver on a serious plot and character development, what it does deliver is just outright comedy which is a great thing if you’re looking to plop your bum down and just take a break from the world. It’s silly, ridiculous over the top but it works so well.