REVIEW — “Night School”
Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish are two of the hottest names in the comedy side of Hollywood right now, so it should come as no surprise that we got a film with the two of them together so soon after the smash-hit Girls Trip – and with the Girls Trip director, Malcolm D. Lee, helming this as well. The film follows Teddy (Kevin Hart), a high school dropout who has made a rather successful life for himself despite not having a college or high school degree. After an incident goes down at his job and forces him to get a new one, he’s faced with the realities of finding a job without a diploma and heads back to his old High School to get his GED. This throws him in a Night School course where he finds an ensemble of fellow students (Rob Riggle being a delight as always) and a strict, no-nonsense teacher played by Tiffany Haddish.
The first ten minutes of this film are extremely tough to get through – not only because they try to unironically get Kevin Hart to play his high school self, but because they throw so many jokes that just don’t land at you in such a brief amount of time. Thankfully, this doesn’t set the tone for the entire film, as it gets much better as it catches up to present day. The film finds its groove the moment that Hart and Haddish begin to play off one another – providing predictable albeit hilarious laughs nonetheless. The entire classroom is great, and Taran Killam as the principal of the High School finally gives him some solid comedic material to work with post-SNL.
One of the most surprising aspects of Night School is that it actually tries to say something. There’s a fairly solid theme about actually working for your goals and not being ashamed of asking for help when you need it. Kevin Hart’s character here, while not complex or deeply written, has a genuine character arc and something of a personality. He’s flawed, but you root for him because you see his potential to be better. Not even just comedically, his chemistry with Haddish is damn’ solid. One of the best sequences in the film features Hart’s character examining Haddish teaching a disabled kid and taking her time with him. It’s a small moment in a otherwise absurdist comedy, but I’m glad they felt the need to include it. Little moments in these movies pay off when they’re done genuinely right.
The film does lose some of its comedic steam once it enters the third act and there’s truly no excuse for this to be nearly two hours long. But with those issues aside, I can honestly say that I was pleasantly surprised by Night School and had a really good time watching it. It’s by no means a new comedy classic, nor is it even the best comedy of the year – but it’s a good time at the theater with solid comedic performances and plenty of laugh out loud moments to make it worth your money. 3/5.