Fist Fight's Charlie Day: Teachers Should Be a Priority


It's one thing for supporting characters played by Jillian Bell (as the out-of-control guidance counsellor), Kumail Nanjiani (as an ineffectual security guard), Christina Hendricks (as a French teacher who 100 per cent sides with Strickland) and Tracy Morgan (as a resolutely Morgan-like gym teacher) to be sort of one-note and one-joke, but that treatment also extends to Ice Cube's character. The late-night host and celebrity stakeholder in the #UFC had nothing but praises for Fist Fights' climactic battle scene, calling it "the most epic fist fight of all time" and the "biggest fist fight that's ever occurred on film".

In cable's "Philadelphia" and movies like the Horrible Bosses series, Day has perfected a kind of whiny, spineless schlub who will finally bare some claws when the script demands.

Day's Andy Campbell is an English teacher at a public high school where, on the final day of the school year, the seniors are pulling ruthless pranks on the educators. By the time sweet little Ally drops the mic on an R-rated version of Big Sean's "I Don't F**k With You", viewers will have learned a valuable lesson about desensitization.

With a couple of exceptions, that is.

Sure, it's a raunchy comedy with a very thin premise - two teachers heading for a brawl in the parking lot after the last day of high school - and without a whole lot of clever ideas.

Andy is especially nervous. He's a reasonable-seeming upstanding fellow who abhors conflict, is the loving husband to a ready-to-deliver pregnant wife (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) and doting dad to a cute elementary-school-age daughter (Alexa Nisenson). So he's toeing the line.

Tracy Morgan makes a hilarious comeback in Fist Fight (shown with Charlie Day and Jillian Bell). And Jillian Bell is a meth-addict guidance counselor with a predatory eye on some of her students (a recurring gag that wasn't amusing the first time). As for Cube, he gets plenty of opportunities to show off his soul-withering stare, but beyond that, Strickland is nothing more than a one-dimensional hardass.

Andy tries to help Strickland with a VCR (the school won't spring for a DVD player) and things go badly in a hurry, culminating in Strickland destroying a student's desk.

No matter, said axe incident ends up implicating both Ron and Andy, leading to a sit-down with the irascible, downsizing-happy Principal Tyler (Dean Norris) in which a cornered Andy reflexively throws Ron under the school bus.

"Hey man, we gotta do something about our school system..."

The fight in the the third act of the movie is action packed, amusing and satisfying.

Although "Fist Fight" - a comedy about a beef between two feuding high school teachers - culminates in the promised slugfest, evidence would suggest that it's the creators of this rope-a-dopey farce who took too many blows to the head. Noble, yes, but not a neat fit here.