Review: Fist Fight (2017)


While doing the Cult Following podcast for our most favored movies of 2016, Kirby pointed out to me that I repeated one core competency for each of my selections to possess: it made me smile. As I age and the seasons change I tend to gravitate toward different types of movies. Most of the movies I prefer to see in the theater are the big budget eye candy brain dead drivel. At home I’ll pop in things such as or like: Summer School (1987), Three O’Clock High (1987), or Better Off Dead (1985).

Not that everything has to be light and cheery because I do love a good horror, thriller, or drama now and again but I’ve been more apt, after a long day or a lazy weekend afternoon, to ingest comfort movies. Comedy, for me, for the last handful of years has been a mixed bag (mostly barf bags). These days you can almost guarantee an R-Rated comedy will graphically contain most, if not all, of the following: poop, semen, testicles (not species exclusive), and/or vomit. Gross out humor has a shelf life of maybe two watches? The second time only because you’re watching with a friend or spouse who’s never seen it?

All of the Sasha Baron Cohen movies that he made are only good for one watch. Once a person is desensitized to the shock-gross-humor it simply does not hold up and it’s the same in regard to the Jackass movies. The jig is up and I feel like we need to make comedy great again (I’m talking to my lawyer right now about securing that phrase). In the early days of their respective careers, I really enjoyed several Apatow productions and Feig productions but unlike how Reitman, Ramis, and Frank Oz evolved and grew as storytellers, today it’s more of being a brand or what is expected.

It could be the “old man” in me bitching about how much better it was in the yesteryears while I tell kids how much better they have it today. I suppose, and I have to accept, that comedy, especially, is subjective. What I find funny versus what someone else finds funny can be completely different. I don’t mean to come off as oppressive toward today’s comedies because there is an obvious market/demographic for that brand of humor. I am apparently an outsider.

You may or may not know that I am the projectionist for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas in Arizona. Due to the nature of my profession I see trailers. I see a lot of trailers. I see all trailers including the alternative versions. I can’t escape it. I’ve been seeing the Fist Fight trailer since sometime around the Why Him feature run. What interested me was Charlie Day. I love that guy; he’s the true “everyman” possessing a soft edge with unpredictability yet centeredness (*watch It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia*)

Ice Cube is also in this movie and I really didn’t have much interest in the movie because of that. He’s a fine actor but the whole family-friendly series of movies he has done leaves a terrible taste in my mouth. Rebranding a Gangsta Rapper into Tim Allen is unappealing.

The straight line: I loved this movie. I loved everything about it. I’d watch it again. When it comes out on Blu Ray, I’d buy it.

Why? It’s the entire cast being cast entirely perfect. Like I said, I would watch it for Charlie Day just on its own but everyone else from Ice Cube to Dean Morris were hamming it up while playing it straight. There’s two stand out performances in this movie: Jillian Bell (the Roosevelt High School guidance Counselor and Alexa Nisenson (Charlie Day’s daughter).

Jillian is very magnetic, her personality sucks one into everything she is doing and saying much like Charlie Day – so much fun to follow and watch.

Alexa plays Charlie’s daughter and there is a scene during a talent show that is a showstopper! It was like that stage scene in Little Miss Sunshine times 200 percent and so funny!

Some of my criticisms:
It starts out really strong and I love the introduction of all the different characters but it loses some steam a little over halfway through. Also, some of the reoccurring build-up senior pranks are so good that they blow their wad a little too early (so to say, literally).

But… overall, for the research I did AFTER seeing the movie it’s a solid movie! It’s a greenhorn theatrical effort from a bunch of TV writers and directors that did a better than I expected job. It is more of a reversal/riff on the movie Three O’Clock High than it is a spoof like High School High.

To sum up:
Even though it does lose steam and eventually follow conventional narrative expectations it’s still fun to watch Charlie Day wiggle his way throughout the day in every inconceivable way. Not perfect in playing out every initial subplot setup but damn near perfect casting and dialog. Just a fun movie to watch.