Fist Fight – Film Review by Emily Elphinstone
Director: Richie Keen
Writers: Van Robichaux (screenplay), Evan Susser (screenplay)
Stars: Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan
There’s a place in cinema for reassuringly predictable plot devices and recognisable characters; particularly in comedy. But however familiar the subject matter, there still needs to be an element of original humour to keep the audience engaged; something that is sadly lacking in director Richie Keen’s Fist Fight.
Written by Van Robichaux and Evan Susser, everything is exactly as you’d expect in a High School comedy; right down to the zany guidance counsellor Holly (Jillian Bell) who is in more need of help than her students. Taking place on Senior Prank Day, everything is so hyped up (‘There’s a Horse!’ ‘Someone wrote penis on the white board!’ ‘All the staff are getting fired!’) it is hard to care about any of it. Early on we find out the climax of the film: Nice guy teacher Mr Campbell (Charlie Day) must fight the terrifying Mr Strickland (Ice Cube at his most Ice Cube). But first, however, he has to get past his meeting with the principal, and his daughter’s talent show. Despite running at only 90 minutes, Fist Fight drags from the start; as jokes on the certainty of Campbell’s defeat, and the ‘craziness’ of prank day are repeated with crass inevitability.
Sadly the two leads are given little to work with, playing characters so predictable that Ice Cube even mutters ‘Fuck tha Police’ (referencing his hit record with NWA). However, there are some more interesting minor roles, including the much put upon Principal Tyler (played by Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris) who is being followed by a Mariachi band: A prank which occurred in a California School in 2014. Most notably however, the real stand-out performance comes from Alexa Nisenson as Campbell’s young daughter Ally; who finds the perfect way to stand up to her bullies: Talent show gangster rap. Unfortunately this moment of brilliance is all too brief, in what must be one of the most disappointing films of the year so far.