Cinematic Releases: Fist Fight (2017) - Reviewed

Frequent sitcom director Richie Keen, best known for his work on the running comedy series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, makes his first big screen splash with the long delayed loose redux of Three O’Clock High: Fist Fight.  Swapping the nerd/bully after school battle for disgruntled high school teachers overrun by indifferent and disrespectful students pranking everyone on the last day, the film is an absurd, often deliberately moronic sketch comedy which pits Charlie Day and Ice Cube head to head after one teacher snitches to the principal to save his own ass. 

Aided by the comic talents of Tracy Morgan and Jillian Bell, Fist Fight is less of a nostalgia driven comedy as it is a kid cousin to the likes of that other Charlie Day comedy, Horrible Bosses, in that whatever message the movie had in mind gets lost in the amusing but disappointingly unoriginal screwball comedy shuffle.  Even the foul mouthed father-daughter talent show bit can be traced to Little Miss Sunshine.  But that’s not to say Keen’s theatrical transposition of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia isn’t without plentiful raunchy comic laughs. 

Charlie Day and Ice Cube more or less do their schtick we’ve seen from other comedies but you can tell they’re having a blast onscreen together so you have to take the borderline sociopathic leanings of these two hotheads with a grain of salt.  Seeing Tracy Morgan in his first onscreen appearance since his near fatal accident is a welcome presence, though he is arguably upstaged by Jillian Bell’s nymphomaniac school counselor.  Only Christina Hendricks seems to be wasted by the movie, with her only gag involving wanting to cut Charlie Day’s face with a knife, recalling images where Hendricks did the same to her own in Lost River.

Reportedly production began on Fist Fight in late 2013 before sitting on the shelf for two years before Ice Cube and Charlie Day were cast in 2015, only to sit on the shelf for another year after principal photography ended.  The film itself runs around ninety minutes and features a gag reel at the end credits, leading one to believe this February released sketch comedy underwent some post-production changes with many of the improvised takes hastily edited together. 

He dealt it. I only smelt it. 

The last time a dumb sketch comedy felt like this was the dreadful Mr. Woodcock which felt in every way like a dumping ground movie studios couldn’t wait to wash their hands of.  While the production track record for Fist Fight isn’t a good sign, you can still have some brainless crude fun with it if you try not to think too hard about it.  An imperfect but entertaining sketch comedy which as it stands could have been stronger but in the end is still worth a few laughs.


- Andrew Kotwicki