‘Fist Fight’ Falls Flat, but At What Cost?

Richie Keen’s ‘Fist Fight’ stands for a meaningful cause, yet gets knocked out in its rushed efforts to make us laugh (for better or for worse).

Charlie Day and Ice Cube go head-to-head in ‘Fist Fight,’ a comedy that tries too hard to play by the street rules.

fist fight
Photo courtesy of Steven Zang.

We all have a little “crazy” in us. However, it’s how we present such eccentricities that make them valuable down the road. Director Richie Keen (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Goldbergs) makes his big-screen debut with a comedy that digs into our oddities, our own personal “ticking points.” Fist Fight plays to both sides of the spectrum, from the socially acceptable do-gooder to the overly expressive time bomb. The final product, though, clutters itself with hasty humor, ultimately becoming a barren platform for an all-star cast.

Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) is just trying to get through the last day of high school. Being an English teacher with a second child on the way, Campbell does not have the time or patience for relentless senior pranks. However, when his violent colleague Ron Strickland (Ice Cube) gets terminated by Campbell’s accusations, Strickland forces Campbell into a fist fight in the parking lot after-school. Thus, Fist Fight follows Campbell’s trek into standing up for himself, as well as letting out his own inner-demons.

The dynamics of their strange collaboration can get you to the theater; hell, it might even be enough to play to your uncanny sense of humor. Still, there’s a profoundness that’s overshadowed by such bizarre behavior, to the point where the explicit punch-lines begin to feel too explicit. The dialogue is as violent as its premise, making the film too imbalanced to capture any type of emotional pivot point.

“The fight that it all lead up to was a bit excessive,” said Leigha Stuiso, both a Nutley native and comedy fanatic. “Fist Fight  has a decently-sized cast, but the acting could’ve been better. Also, I would’ve rather seen less jokes with better punchlines, over more jokes with half-fast punch-lines.”

There you have it. The laughs are forceful, and the moral lessons are too bombarded in its rough edges. In other words, the feel-good aspect of Fist Fight is tangible, but given too much of a crass spotlight to be worth the 90 minutes of your day. But hey, don’t just take my word for it. Give it your best shot.

Fist Fight is now playing in movie theaters worldwide. Some more local venues include AMC Clifton Commons, AMC Loews Wayne 14 and even AMC Essex Greens in West Orange. For a list of even more theaters and show-times, visit fandango.com and start planning your trip to the movies today.

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