'Fist Fight' Review: Less Fun Than a Punch to the Face

Tracy Morgan

Fist Fight has been done before. It's the kind of learning institution that only exists on Comedy Central and in R-rated movies, where everyone looks and acts well-off, yet all the teachers are either incompetent or insane, budget cutbacks are omnipresent, and the students are hard not because they're gang members or anything, but because they play elaborate pranks like rigging tripwire paint-guns and getting a racehorse high on drugs.

Much of the film consists of Campbell's ineffectual efforts to forestall the inevitable, in a grown-up evocation of the 1987 comedy "Three O'Clock High" (a far better film about a wuss trying to avoid a beatdown by a schoolyard bully). Nanjiani is always amusing, though underused here, and Day's panic-stricken fluster is often effective enough, but too much of Fist Fight treads ground as familiar as small children rapping explicit lyrics, copious masturbation jokes, an ever-evolving sight gag involving some kids mowing a dick into the football field, Morgan yelling non-sequiturs at top volume, Day being mistaken for a pedophile, and so on.

But you don't just have to bide your time until Andy and angry history teacher Ron Strickland (Ice Cube) come to blows. They're certainly given their moments to shine, with poor Tyler unable to handle this prank-filled final day of school, and Mehar constantly feeling self-conscience about not being an actual police officer. So both characters are selfish and cowardly, but Strickland gets to carry a tough guy persona while Campbell's arc is that he learns to stand up for himself. After he accidentally causes Strickland to be fired, Campbell is challenged to an after-school fist fight to settle the score. When Strickland loses his cool in front of his class, taking a fireman's ax to a misbehaving student's desk, Campbell rats on him to the principal (Dean Norris), leading to Strickland's threat of an after-school showdown. The fight had to happen.

Star Charlie Day and director Richie Keen discuss the comedy "Fist Fight". Fist Fight isn't or the faint of heart, by faint of heart I mean those who prefer their humor "nice".

Morgan: TV is a little bit more personable than movies.

"I struggled at first because I didn't know if I had my comedic timing or if my instincts were there, and I was afraid", he said during an interview with HuffPost. Day, with his high-pitched rants and unpredictable impulsiveness, was like the Day we know from Sunny-minus the illiteracy, of course.

Fearing for his life, and also concerned about making his daughter's performance in a talent show that afternoon, Campbell tries to find a way out of his predicament.

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In addition, hearing 8-year-olds cuss like their parents can be amusing on South Park, but here it seems that Keen and the screenwriters are incapable of telling the difference between amusing and mean.

The movie also features Christina Hendricks, Tracy Morgan and Jillian Bell.

It's at its most cynical at the end, when all bad behavior is not merely excused, but rewarded, and all is forgiven between to two fighters. The movie is often laugh-out-loud amusing, I have to admit, but I'm willing to bet that teenagers in audience will enjoy it a lot more than teachers and administrators.

Campbell has even more to worry about.

"Did you train for this or did you guys know how to throw a punch?" asked Petrillo.

Jillian Bell in "Fist Fight". In muddling the plot by exploring a number of "fights" toward the conclusion-is it Campbell vs. Strickland?

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