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Fist Fight

Year: 2017
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Richie Keen
Writer: Van Robichaux/Evan Susser/Max Greenfield
Cast: Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Jillian Bell, Christina Hendricks, Dean Norris, Tracy Morgan, Kumail Nanjiani, Dennis Haysbert

Fist Fight is the expression of one of the oldest trends in Hollywood – take something that does well and copy it until they're flogging a dead horse.

You'll recognise everything about it even from the trailer. It's another R rated comedy with a script that's little more than an excuse to stitch a collection of gags together that seem to have been written by stand-up comics. Throw in a lot of edgy humour (Jillian Bell plays a teacher who's wildly inappropriate about her desire for a student and her propensity for drugs), shoot a lot of takes while letting your actors improv the script to give you lots to work with, tie the yucks together with an arbitrarily forgettable story and have yourself a hit.

The problem is that audiences get tired of long before studios do. Or, just as likely, we're just wise when the same lazy retread is foisted upon us again and again.

It's coming up on the last day of school and the faculty are more concerned with keeping their jobs during the latest round of funding cuts, misbehaving as much as they can out of the student gaze (while the students are consumed with their own misbehaviour) and staying out of trouble.

Except Andy (Charlie Day, in full frat comedy Woody Allen mode) gets on the wrong side of Strickland (Ice Cube), the most fearsome teacher at school, the latter promising he'll whip him after school in the titular brawl. See the joke? The teachers are having the fight rather than the students.

To be honest this review is more critical than I intend it to be. Yes, hindsight reveals that you've been thoroughly hoodwinked, but there are enough gags in it, enough charm in some of the actors and enough workshopping of lines until some of the jokes feel natural that you'll laugh more than once.

Just set your expectations way, way down there and don't expect more than what it promises.

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