Director: Richie Keen
Cast: Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Dean Norris, Christina Hendricks, Dennis Haysbert, JoAnna Garcia Swisher
Runtime: 1 hr 31 mins
Rating: M18 (Coarse Language and Sexual References)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 23 February 2017
Synopsis: On the last day of the year, mild-mannered high school English teacher Andy Campbell is trying his best to keep it together amidst senior pranks, a dysfunctional administration and budget cuts that put jobs on the line. But things go from bad to worse when he accidentally crosses his much tougher and deeply feared colleague, Ron Strickland, who challenges Campbell to an old-fashioned throwdown after school. News of the fight spreads like wildfire and ends up becoming the very thing this school, and Campbell, needed.
Whoever gave the green light to make this comedy probably wasn’t expecting positive reviews. Productions like this are quick fixes: people pay money and step into the cinema to laugh at the lazily conceived jokes, forget what tough the real world outside the theatre is, and enjoy that two hours chuckling at scenarios which are never going to happen in real life.
Directed by Richie Keen and written by Van Robichaux and Evan Susser, this 91 minute works for anyone who isn’t in the mood for a movie that requires any sort of brain activity. The story takes place in a high school: on one side of the ring we have an earnest but cowardly teacher played by Charlie Day, on the other side we have Ice Cube portraying a perpetually angry and intense teacher who isn’t too pleased about losing his job. Through a series of unfortunate events, the two end up hating each other’s guts and a fight after the school day ends is arranged.
Please do not mistake this reviewer as a snob – he loves a hilarious comedy when he watches one. The highlight of this movie, however, seems to be the lineup of stars who have done better in their other projects.
Day (TV’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), is known for his roles in Horrible Bosses (2011) and voicing Benny the astronaut in The Lego Movie (2014). Here, he doesn’t do much except looking frightened and screaming in fear whenever he is bullied by Ice Cube. The rapper, on the other hand, frowns a lot and channels his fury into his thick brows (we prefer him in Barbershop and Are We There Yet? – anytime).
Elsewhere, Tracy Morgan (TV’s Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock) plays an incompetent gym coach, Jllian Bell (22 Jump Street) is mildly funny as a counsellor and Christina Hendricks (TV’s Mad Men) puts her assets to good use as an overdramatic, ahem, drama teacher.
The one and a half hours of jokes in this movie could have been broadcast on TV. While there are occasional laugh out loud moments, the movie recycles how its jokes are told and the result is a tedious comedy that relies more on physical gags than smart jokes. Not that it needs to anyway, granted the habits of casual movie goers nowadays. It feels like a wasted opportunity though, considering how the filmmakers could make use of the premise to comment on the education system.
And how did you think the movie would end? There’s a happy ending of course, with the two opposing individuals shaking hands and ready to improve things in the school. Oh, did we just give away spoilers? Come on, were you really expecting a story twist for a commercial comedy like this? As we speak, countless titles are in production and before you know it, the next one starring your favourite comedies will be showing at a big screen near you.
(There is a scene of Charlie Day being dragged down a flight of stairs by a horse on meth – ‘nuff said)
Review by John Li