Let me start this review off by stating that I am a huge fan of director Phil Joanou’s underrated 1987 comedy, “Three O’Clock High”. The story centered on a high school student (Casey Siemaszko) who tried to get out of an after school fight with a bully (Richard Tyson). The new comedy, “Fist Fight” is a clear remake of that film, but this time around teachers are the ones who are going to fight after school. The stories are almost identical, but “Fist Fight” lacks the cleverness and dark humor which made “Three O’Clock High” so enjoyable.
High school English teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) is an all-around nice guy. He has a loving wife and daughter, plus a baby on the way. Set at the end of the school year on senior prank day, tensions are high at the already violent Atlanta school. To make matters worse, Andy is worried that he might be laid off like much of the school’s faculty due to budget cuts.
Andy just wants to get through the day and his upcoming meeting with the school board. However, when Andy informs on history teacher Strickland (Ice Cube) about an incident involving an axe and a student’s desk, Andy’s day gets a whole lot worse. Strickland wants to teach Andy a lesson by whooping his butt in the school parking lot at three O’clock in front of everyone. Andy doesn’t want any part of this and does everything in his power from bribing students to framing Strickland for a crime to try and get out of the fight.
There are many issues I had with “Fist Fight”. There are very few laughs which I found quite disappointing because I think Day and Cube can be quite funny. Even the supporting cast that includes Tracy Morgan and Jillian Bell are wasted, though to-be-fair, Morgan does deliver a few chuckles. Another issue I had was just how homophobic some of the jokes were. I lost count of the gay and penis jokes and that kind of humor is just not funny, at least not to me.
“Fist Fight” is a bad movie that features a cast much better than the material they are working with. Ice Cube can do much better than “Fist Fight” and the “Ride Along” films. Charlie Day has been a supporting player for years and this was his first time headlining a feature film. Let’s hope that he gets something better next time around.
By: Marc Ferman