I own a Big Nate comic strip collection at home. And one story, made from a set of panels, was the story of "Prank Day" also known as the last day of school. And I love prank videos, despite my family loathing them! Fist Fight takes place on the last day of school, and students are pranking teachers like it's the Teenage Revolution. And English teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) gets a misunderstanding when he's called into history teacher Ron Strickland's (Ice Cube) classroom. And Strickland has many probably-not-far-off myths about him. People say he killed Saddam Hussein's kids. That he was a gang leader who was like the warden you had to answer to if anyone snitched. And when something goes awry in the classroom and Strickland takes the kick, he challenges Campbell to a fistfight at 3 after school. The rule: Whoever goes down first and doesn't get up loses. So what's Campbell to do?
You know what I said as this movie began? "Oh my God!!!!!!" Which is what Grace Randolph said when describing The Angry Birds Movie if anyone accuses me of plagiarism, but it's the honest truth. This school, and these students, are out of their minds! When I was in 6th grade, I wrote The Blacktop Brothers and based the bullies on these guys that picked on me at recess. And in seventh grade, they all switched schools. (Can't say I drove them out, it was the school system. If only it were true.) And they ended up going to a different high school than me to, primarily because I was in the French Immersion program. But, story time's over! The point is, I bet that high school went through hell with them in it but they almost certainly didn't wreak as much havoc as the kids do here. And some of the humour is actually quite disgusting. It made me question if I should give a movie like this a recommendation, if I should admit it was funny. Because the beginning was very funny!
Not only that, but raunch comedies don't usually have any hidden messages. This one has one at the start, when a prank is pulled and the punishment goes quite far. Well, think about it like that, and then imagine it five times worse. I mean, if I was a teacher, that prank would probably be hard to laugh at. But as a moviegoer and as imagining myself a student, it was funny! Then about after that fresh but raunchy beginning, Fist Fight throws a punch at an angle I almost always hate in movies, regardless of their intention, story value, or genre they're in.
Let me explain. There's a section in this movie where Mr. Campbell has to make a purchase that makes him have to take out quite a few cards. But c'mon!!! This kind of thing only works when the person deserves it! Well, thank goodness this movie didn't overdo that idea. If only that was the only thing wrong with this movie!
Look. The humour is clever. I chuckled and found myself having more fun than another movie I saw yesterday that I'll review soon. And I won't forget the redhead teacher with that swirling knife anytime soon! And most of the pranks are very energetic! I wouldn't want to be the subject of them, but they have the sort of value that makes you want to hit the rewind button. But the movie not only resorts to using most of its potential on sex-and-flex jokes that mostly felt like they should've been put elsewhere in the movie, but let's just say: The movie doesn't realize its bad guy identity. Mr. Strickland is insane and he is acknowledged as one at first but the angle they take is flat and has a side story the movie never goes into fully enough for us to feel like we're on the same cruise.
So what about the fun Fist Fight finale? I won't spoil it, but it really put my review up and down more times than Mr. Campbell and Mr. Strickland combined fell down. The fistfight was the turning point for the movie. Because of its title, its promise, and my mixed reaction to most of the movie, I was ready for it. I was also even more excited for it than all those other people cheering them live because, and this isn't a spoiler since you know who's up against who, but this fight was a chance to inspire people, and to show that maybe to win a fight, you don't need years of experience, or exercise, or even extra height or weight, to beat someone. Maybe you just need the confidence and it'll come. Geez louise, I was pumped for it. I won't spoil what goes down, but in the end, the turnout of the whole movie was one that I liked on one hand, but on the other, and most of my critical reflexes, made me feel anemic.
In the end, Fist Fight is a raunch comedy with some energetic and funny moments but is rendered with disappointing attempts at messages and false characterization that prevent my recommendation. Maybe if you're drunk you'll get by it better than me.