Starring: Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Joanna Garcia Swisher, Dean Norris, Christina Hendricks, Kumail Nanjiani, Dennis Haysbert
Directed By: Richie Keen
Plot: I actually like the IMDB description for this, because it is spot on and perfect. “When one school teacher unwittingly causes another teacher’s dismissal, he is challenged to an after-school fight.” BAM. Simplicity.
What Works: Some of the jokes land. Charlie Day is one of those comedians that has an unlimited amount of energy that he can tap into that can literally give a film momentum. Not every comedian has that energy source, but Day’s energy seems limitless. He can literally save a scene, or a joke, just by fully committing himself to the joke or scene. Cube, on the other hand, is fully committed to being a straight-faced bad ass. The supporting cast doesn’t offer much, despite the presence of some decent comedic talent. Bell’s character is one note, and someone concerning because it is similar to characters she’s already played. Is she going to be perpetually cast now as some kind of druggie party girl? Morgan has a few good lines too. It’s not the funniest film of the year, but it’s also not “unfunny”.
What Doesn’t Work: HUGE leaps of faith must be taken in order to enjoy this film. Like, this is an extreme situation. The kids at this school are next-level bad. I get that it’s senior prank day, but the school seems to be suffering some kind of mini-apocalypse. Senior pranks never happen with this much frequency, or severity. And to that extent, the students are just ballsy when it comes to their stunts and day-to-day actions. Like, they just do not care whatsoever. Zero fucks are given from the students at this school. Normally there are some kids worried about their grades, or colleges, but at this school it seems that everyone is an anarchist. Which, again, requires a leap of faith. And the teachers openly curse at students, which is a little bit of a leap of faith. Also, the talent show scene never should have happened. The “shock value” is that Day didn’t know the song, except for the fact that his wife (Garcia Swisher) brought it up earlier in the film. So, did SHE not listen to the song? Is she actually a terrible mother? Why would she suggest a song she had never heard before? Again, you have to check your mind at the door to enjoy pretty much any of this film.
Final Word: You shouldn’t have to completely check your mind at the door though just to enjoy a film. I think comedies should at least be somewhat intelligent, and follow some kind of general expectation of common sense. The characters in this film have no common sense. Things happen that would never happen otherwise. Yeah, I laughed a bit, but I also kept thinking how lazy this script was because it just decided to throw the rule book out the door. That’s not talent. Talent is being funny while working with the rule book, or around the rule book with some loopholes. Just completely ignoring the rule book is almost like making a fantasy comedy, where in another dimension this kind of shit happens, and we’re getting a look at how crazy that dimension is. I just think it’s lazy though. Ground your characters in some kind of reality and build from there.
Final Grade: C+