There’s a fun comedy in Fist Fight and it lasts for about half an hour. The first 15 minutes present Charlie Day as an English teacher / adult-sized welcome mat that just wants to get through the last day of class without falling victim to the students’ pranks or the principal’s firing line. Instead, he pisses off a monstrous teacher (Ice Cube) that vows to beat him up after school. There’s some good gags in the setup to show how deep this school is in the gutter and the actual fist fight is enjoyably nuts.
But the middle hour takes such a laughless nosedive that you’ll wish they just cut out that 60 minutes and slapped the remaining 30 on TV. Much like Day’s character, the film runs around trying to figure out what to do, only to come up short at every opportunity. The supporting roles aren’t enough to keep it floating either, since everyone seems to have been given a Seven Dwarfs-like personality – Jerky (Dean Norris), Predatory (Jillian Bell), Psychotic (Christina Hendricks), Tracy Morgan (Tracy Morgan).
There’s no progression except for the clock, sluggishly crawling towards the fist fight finale via a breadcrumb trail of one-liners. Nothing amplifies except Day’s dog whistle of a voice, a quality better suited to upping the ante on the pranks or the school’s descent into chaos. The one big laugh this middle section coughs out, set during a father-daughter talent show, doesn’t even have anything to do with the situation.
If that wasn’t enough, Fist Fight has the audacity to try and make a serious statement about the state of underfunded American schools and how unjust it is to lay off teachers. But with a staff made up of jerks, psychos, predators, and Tracy Morgans, you can’t help but feel they were justified.
‘Fist Fight’ Movie Times