“Fist Fight” (2017)
Running Time: 91 minutes
Directed by: Richie Keen
Featuring: Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Christina Hendricks, Jillian Bell and Tracy Morgan
Strickland: [From red-band trailer] “Snitches get stitches.”
In recent years Ice Cube has been teaming up with veteran comedians (Cedric the Entertainer, Kevin Hart, Jonah Hill, Mike Epps and many others) in fish out of water films that have proven him to be an able straight man in most situations. To be fair the films have been successful business propositions but have failed to garner any real critical success – I assume he was hoping to change that with a high concept idea and a very successful foil in Charlie Day. As a talent Charlie Day is best known for the ensemble TV comedy “Its always sunny in Philadelphia” (2001 – present) where he not only appears onscreen but also co-produces and writes many episodes, oh yes and even writing music for the show. However their teaming up here does not lead to comedy gold.
“First Fight” is set on the last day of high school where there has been chaos from the students’ senior pranks. Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) was teaching English to the kids but was unamused by the kids’ pranks from the drawing board. History teacher Ron Strickland (Ice Cube) was unamused as well once he witnessed a student turn off the TV and VCR with his smartphone app. Strickland noticed the prank again and used an axe to destroy the boy’s table, which horrified Campbell. Both Campbell and Strickland were brought to Principal Tyler (Dean Norris) for the matter. Campbell convinced Tyler that Strickland started the outburst, for which Strickland was fired. Strickland threatened Campbell for a fist fight sometime after school for making him lose his job.
I am not going to lie this is not one of those classic comedies that takes a central goofy idea, say “Dodgeball” (2009) and turns it into a must see, now classic – with amazing turns by a great supporting cast that could anchor their own films – and have. What this film does is take quite a good idea and saddle it with a lumpy script that seems to go nowhere – it does however have some great comedic characters actors trying to save the film with their own branded humor, in particular 30 Rock’s, Tracey Morgan who steals the film for the time he is in it.
Richie Keen who is making his feature film debut as director has great comedic chops from his stint on “Its always sunny in Philadelphia” (and many other sitcoms) while Day is porting over his ‘Charlie’ character to some effect, but like on that show it can wear a little. Ice Cube here is playing for laughs but even that cannot save the film from the script.
If you want to chuckle in a film and like character driven humor, you could do worse than this film – but I would wait for the DVD, Blu-ray or streaming release.