When the first trailer for Fist Fight was released, I asked myself, “Why Ice Cube, why?” I’m a big fan of his, and with me having no faith in how this film would turn out it piqued my interest more and more when it came closer to release. It was hard to wrap my head around two grown men fighting in a high school parking lot around students and not going to jail. The cast fit the roles with talents like Tracy Morgan (Coach Crawford), and Charlie Day (Andy Campbell). So I thought maybe there’d be a chance of this being a surprise hit. I was surprised in some sense, not by how good or bad the film is, but by the content inside being a script that was thought of in five minutes just for Warner Bros. to make a buck.
Of course, studios want to make money, but don’t make it so obvious that that’s your only goal instead of actually making something worthy. American Pie, if not already, is a hard R classic of high school films that would be remembered forever. I mention that, because everything in it was real and relatable to how high school really is to a degree. Fist Fight tries that and fails miserably. Reason being is teachers or students don’t act like this ever, or they’d be expelled. It’s all too over the top, with random stupidity that would put nearly everyone in the school in jail. Scene by scene there’s multiple acts of unrealistic, nonsensical actions that wouldn’t happen in the real world; which brings the film down.
The only character that had their act together was that of Charlie Day and Tracy Morgan. Being an English teacher and an athletic coach, their two roles kept the environment down to reality. I don’t know what Ice Cube’s role was supposed to be, but it wasn’t anything I’d choose to see again. Trying to appear as the tough teacher around campus, known as, “Mr. Strictland,” he runs around bullying teachers and students pretending he’s enforcing policy. I wouldn’t be surprised if his character was picked on as a child, and this was his way of getting revenge. If that was the case, he needs to get over it. I gave up on him when he tried to make students watch a documentary on the last day of school instead of giving great advice that his class can take with them. Not only that, but him flipping tables, throwing book cases, and taking a fire axe to a student’s desk while they’re seated was too much to handle. That alone would probably put you in prison for at least a decade, but for some reason not this time around. Then you have teachers obsessing over having sex with minors making it all really disturbing. For some reason, we’re expected to laugh at all of this.
Though besides Mr. Strictland running around like a crazed maniac on screen, the script to keep the film going as far as the Fist Fight taking place had some imagination. There’s also a moral to the story of what can be accomplished once someone faces their fears instead of going the other way and constantly being taken advantage of. While the first half of the film turned out to be a sluggish disappointment, you eventually put aside all the exaggerated ridiculousness and start to have fun. That is all due to the film removing itself from all the unnecessary shenanigans.
A movie can be great for the entire runtime, but end horribly leaving a bad stench on the brain and ruining the whole film experience. Though when it starts out rocky, but picks up at the end, the former can easily be forgotten. The first half is still bothersome, but towards the end things pick themselves up and deliver a good number of laughs. Though nothing like this would ever happen in the real world, as mentioned earlier, it does cater to those thoughts in the back of your mind that you probably had growing up as a child in school. For his first time directing a film, I imagine Richie Keen did the best he could, but this was still a missed opportunity to be something great and different from the norm.