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REVIEW — “Fist Fight”

Is it in Ice Cube’s contract that every movie he’s in is required to play an N.W.A song?

Fist Fight is directed by Richie Keen, written by Van Robichaux and Evan Susser, and has a cast featuring Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Dean Norris, Christina Hendricks, and Kumail Nanjiani and tells the story of a mild-mannered high-school teacher is challenged to a fight after the school day ends after being accused of getting a fellow teacher fired. Now, despite the trailers not being the best, I was actually quite excited to see Fist Fight for two reasons, one being Charlie Day and the other being Ice Cube. Looking a better version of Get Hard, I went into this cautiously optimistic and I walked out fairly satisfied. Fist Fight doesn’t break any new ground or even do anything particularly special, but the likability of Charlie Day and Ice Cube make up for that and deliver a fun, simple comedy. I laughed quite a bit in Fist Fight and that’s all I wanted.

Richie Keen is sitting in the director’s chair and while he is mainly known for television work, directing many episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, he does a good job making the leap to the silver screen as this is his debut. While this rank among great comedies like 21 Jump Street or Superbad it succeeds in not being horrible. While many of the jokes don’t land, Fist Fight finds itself being leaps and bounds better than the usual garbage comedies Hollywood pumps out like Tammy or Masterminds. Keen clearly had a lot of fun on set and while a lot seems improved it never comes across as obnoxious or messy. While I wouldn’t say Richie Keen is necessarily a comedy director to look out for, I certainly wouldn’t object to seeing more from him. Fist Fight meets all criteria a good comedy should.

Van Robichaux and Evan Susser penned the script for Fist Fight and while they’ve never written a feature before they’re slated to write the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog so there’s that. What impressed me most about their script was it didn’t rely on raunchy humor or excessive cursing to be funny. Don’t get me wrong, there is a fair amount cursing and sexual humor but they don’t hit you over the head with it. There is a surprising lack of nudity and I can only recall one joke actually featuring graphic nudity. It’s refreshing to see a comedy with gags that don’t rely on saying the F-word and showing someone naked. Now that’s not to say all the jokes land, some fall flat on their face. The writing is funny and again, that’s all it needed to be. The script is obviously just a lead into the ending fight and it never manages to get boring.

Charlie Day and Ice Cube star in Fist Fight and for the most part, they carry the movie. Charlie Day more so than Ice Cube simply because he is featured more. Charlie Day does a great job as the leading man, he is funny, likable and sympathetic and you ultimately want him to succeed. While he does mainly play the straight-man when he goes off the rails it’s very entertaining to watch. He does play himself but he is very good at it. Ice Cube plays Ice Cube and he does a good job at it. This may be the most over the top character he has played since he isn’t the straight man in Fist Fight and sometimes it comes across very over the top and obnoxious and at other times it’s very funny. The rest of the cast walks the line of being fine to annoying. Unfortunately, I found Jillian Bell’s character very annoying as her bit wasn’t funny and got old fast. Also, Tracy Morgan just kinda did whatever he wanted and it fluctuated from hilarious to awkward. Dean Norris actually did a great job as the “villain” but Christina Hendricks has no reason to be in the film. Her character does nothing and there is no pay-off for her few scenes and she really does nothing throughout the story. Not to say she does bad, she was just unnecessary.

On a technical side, Fist Fight is passable. No one is going to come out of this raving about the cinematography or humming the score. It’s a comedy, we come for the jokes. Luckily there are funny ones. Now I feared this would face the same problem Batman V Superman did, where the story would build up to an epic fight and it would only last about five minutes. Luckily Fist Fight isn’t like that. The actual fight is pretty cool. It lasts a considerable amount of time and gets creative as it goes on. It is a good payoff and while it ends rather predictably, it was worth seeing. What I keep saying about Fist Fight is that is good. Good is the best word I can use to describe it because while I’m sure there will be better comedies that come out in 2017, I’m looking at you The House, I’m sure there will be worse. In an age of obnoxious and raunchy comedies, it’s refreshing to see a perfectly fine one. While Fist Fight certainly isn’t a great movie. I certainly didn’t regret seeing it.

In short, Fist Fight is a perfectly passable comedy and while you may not remember it a month from now, it’s a fun comedy with two great leads. Now while this movie is not a must see, it’s coming out the same week as The Great Wall and A Cure For Wellness and this is surprisingly the one I’d recommend you see. Fist Fight surprised me with how perfectly adequate it is. 2.5/5

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