In 1987 there was a film released named Three O’Clock High that told the story of a meek high school student, Jerry (Casey Siemaszko) challenged to a fist fight after school by the school bully, Buddy (Richard Tyson). It was a commercial and critical failure but has gained some cult status notoriety since then. It was a high-energy teen film that was directed by music video director Phil Joanou and featured a terrific score by Tangerine Dream and Sylvester Levay. Was it a good film? Not particularly, but it was cut together with a lot of odd camera angles and quick-cut editing that made the film somewhat interesting for me. Fist Fight wishes it was even half the film Three O’Clock High was.
Fist Fight tells the story of a rough high school on its last day of the school year. Senior pranks abound, tensions run high and Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) is responsible for Mr. Strickland (Ice Cube) fired. Strickland then challenges Andy to a fist fight in the parking lot after school lets out. Andy is wimp and scared to death so he tries a bunch of different ploys to get out of the fight but none are successful. This is the premise for Richie Keen’s Fist Fight.
There are a lot of elements that could be funny. I did like the Mariachi band being paid to follow the principle (Dean Norris) around all day. But this film is so over the top that I did not believe that anyone would get away with any of the nonsense that teachers and students get away with in Fist Fight. When the film tries to take itself seriously by making an indictment of the public school system, it falls flat on its face. There are a few chuckles in Fist Fight and Charlie Day does his best to carry this film on his shoulders. Ice Cube, who I consider to be a fine actor, does what he does best; play Ice Cube.
There are some characters that are not really developed other than being a filler, most notably the lovely and curvaceous Christina Hendricks who thinks Andy is a pervert. She could have had a rather juicy role, but only has a couple of scenes. Tracy Morgan and Jillian Bell are Andy’s closest friends but they are not given much to do, either. Which brings us to the script by Van Robichaux, Evan Susser and Max Greenfield which tries hard to make us laugh but is hit and miss. Fist Fight is mostly a miss. Richie Keen is mostly a director of television shows, most notably It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He maintains a quick pace with Fist Fight, but there is so much over-the-top nonsense that he stretches the believability of the subject matter. There is just no way even a third of what happens here, would actually happen in today’s schools.
I really wanted to like Fist Fight. As I told a friend of mine, I thought the trailers looked interesting. But he warned me not to get my hopes up. He was right. Fist Fight is a vulgar, over-the-top 80’s comedy dressed up as something new in 2017. I cannot tell you to rush out and spend your hard earned dollars to see this film in theaters. It is just not that kind of film. If you see it on cable, you will have seen this film in its natural element. Cable is where Fist Fight works best.
Fist Fight – ** 1/2 out of 5
Fist Fight – Rated R for graphic language, violence, sexual situations and adult situations
Fist Fight – Run Time is 91 minutes
Fist Fight is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations.