Review: Dreadful ‘Fist Fight’ a beatdown to your senses
It’s admittedly early, but the Worst Movie of the Year race has an early favorite
“Fist Fight” presents a nightmare vision of today’s public school system: Students openly masturbate in restrooms; classrooms are a free market for drug trading; teachers, when not lusting after their students, attack them with fire axes; a horse, hopped up on crystal meth, runs free through the hallways.
What kind of psychopathic universe is this? (And does each ticket purchased come with a charter school application?)
“Fist Fight” has the earmarks of a deep satire, but there is no evidence director Richie Keen or screenwriters Van Robichaux and Evan Susser know the meaning of the word. The audience is simply asked to accept the reality of their world, which basically unfolds in the same hellscape apocalypse as “The Purge.”
Into this fertile comic setting comes the story of Andy Campbell (Charlie Day), a mild-mannered but manic English teacher who crosses menacingly barbaric history teacher Ron Strickland (Ice Cube) on the last day of school. Strickland challenges Campbell to a fight at three o’clock high and Campbell spends the day running around trying to get out of it (neither he nor any of the other teachers ever seem to be teaching class).
“Fist Fight” is broad, bawdy and crude, mistaking lewdness for laughs and lazily trading on the beats of today’s annoyingly hyper-aware comic rhythms (typical exchange: “that is a thing,” “that’s really not a thing”). Cube taps into the fury that once made him a truly frightening presence, but “Fist Fight” is so terminally unpleasant that it feels like the audience is the one catching a beating. In this fight, there are only losers.
Rated R: for language throughout, sexual content/nudity and drug material
Running time: 91 minutes