Fist Fight is a bare knuckle comedy with a heavy emphasis on bare. While it features two boisterous performances from both Ice Cube and Charlie Day it still manages to feel empty for a lot of the scenes. It’s a film that quickly goes down in the first round and then never fully recovers despite its best attempts to stay on its feet.
Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) teaches English to high school students and while he’s good at his job, he tends to get walked on by the students and his fellow teachers. Then there is Ron Strickland (Ice Cube) who is feared by everyone. It’s the last day of school before summer vacation and the student body has descended into chaos as they pull one senior prank after another. After witnessing a student pranking Mr. Strickland, who decides to take matters into his own hands by taking a fireman’s axe to the student’s desk, Mr. Campbell rats out Mr. Strickland to the principle and ends up getting him fired. Angered that he didn’t stick up for his fellow teacher, Mr. Strickland challenges Mr. Campbell to a fist fight after school. With the clock ticking, Mr. Campbell does his best to weasel his way out of getting his face beaten to a bloody pulp.
Even with a great comedic cast including Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan, and Jillian Bell, Fist Fight is your standard run of the mill comedy that doesn’t even feel like it’s trying. Nothing about the film stands out as it goes through the motions using the same jokes. Ice Cube is angry. Charlie Day is a whimp. Jillian Bell does drugs and wants to sleep with her students. There’s nothing new or inventive about the film, and the humor isn’t funny enough to last 20 minutes let alone the entire 90.
It’s not that they’re terrible, either. I love Charlie Day and his outrageous over-the-top performance. His comedic timing is on point, and he’s the best when he’s channeling his inner Charlie Kelly. He’s not enough for the entire film, though. Ice Cube has some entertaining moments as well. The two balance each other out nicely. As I said earlier, the schtick quickly wears thin. There’s only so many times you can get a laugh out of Charlie Day being afraid of Ice Cube. And when that runs out the film has nowhere else to go.
Fist Fight is like sitting in class watching the clock as the seconds tick by until the bell rings and school lets out. It’s not the worse thing in the world, but your time could definitely be better spent.