Charlie Day and Ice Cube pull their punches

Mike Suglio, Staff Reporter

Charlie Day is one of the most beloved comedians hitting up the American circuit of sitcoms and comedies.  He’s done great work in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Horrible Bosses,” and “The LEGO Movie.”  But unfortunately for the viewer, his new film, “Fist Fight,” feels like an annoying, drawn-out Saturday Night Live (SNL) sketch that may be funny when someone is half-asleep around midnight when SNL is on live.

Day plays Andy Campbell, an English teacher at Roosevelt High School who is constantly being pranked on the last day of school.  He is surrounded by several other idiosyncratic teachers played by comedians Jillian Bell and Tracey Morgan, who fade into the background apart from their random one-liners.  Ron Strickland (Ice Cube), a very strict history teacher asks Campbell to assist him with the TV and VCR in his classroom.  Campbell and Strickland struggle to get the outdated VCR to work until they find out the problem is a student remotely controlling the unit and causing things to malfunction. Strickland in a fit of fury takes an axe to the student’s desk, which prompts a meeting with the principal (“Breaking Bad” veteran Dean Norris).  Though Strickland asks Campbell to keep quiet, in fear of losing his job, Campbell spills the beans. Strickland, newly-fired, challenges Campbell to a fistfight in his anger.

Utilizing a non-linear narrative, the movie opens with Strickland’s challenge but takes the next hour to get back to that plot point. The viewer must struggle through an hour of repetitive, mildly funny jokes told by dislikable characters until they see real action again. Day’s character is annoying and often halts the movie’s progress.  Ice Cube’s Strickland is rather one-dimensional and we never truly learn why he is strict except for 10 seconds of flashbacks that never clearly state anything.

The trailer drew parallels between the showdown in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and the titular fistfight; ironically, like that film, the basic premise—the fight—drags on for too long only to end with an inadequate payoff.  The bloopers shown during the credits are funnier than most scenes in the film and serve as a consolation prize to viewers who leave the theater laughing hard enough to forget how bad it was.

If you are a big Day fan, then please go see it in theaters, but this is a perfect example of a film that is best watched for a few laughs before bed after it comes out on a streaming service.

Grade = C