‘Fist Fight’ Movie Review Roundup: Half-Funny Comedy “Leaves A Sour Taste In Your Mouth”
New comedy Fist Fight stars Ice Cube and Charlie Day as school teachers who embark on a fist fight after Day’s character is accused of getting Cube’s character fired. Critics, for the most part, are unimpressed with this Richie Keen flick. The film scored a meager 34% on rottentomatoes.com, though the audience rating is slightly better, at 58%. While it seems a lot of critics found the film exceedingly funny, some found it painful, and others thought it missed the mark given the amount of talent onscreen.
Ice Cube plays Mr. Ron Strickland, a somewhat crazed high school teacher who loses his job on the last day of school because he threatened a student with an axe. Day plays Mr. Andy Campbell, the “nice guy” who happened to get caught up in the school shenanigans. It’s the last day of school, during which the HS seniors pull all sorts of inane pranks, and Strickland has challenged Campbell to a fist fight, as the title suggests.
FIST FIGHT REVIEW ROUNDUP
“Fist Fight purports to be transgressive in its humor, but it plays things safe when it comes to anything resembling social critique. But then again, it’s not that kind of comedy… Fist Fight isn’t there to make you think, but to make you laugh, and it mostly does… Thanks to that cast, and some savvy direction, you might very well enjoy Fist Fight. But don’t be surprised if it also leaves a sour taste in your mouth.”
–Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice
“Richie Keen’s Fist Fight, which isn’t a remake of either film, makes a considerably blander promise to viewers: There’s going to be a fight. With fists.
If that’s an attempt to manage expectations, fair enough. The movie is funnier and more colorful than its flat moniker suggests, and when that dreaded rumble finally arrives, it involves much more than fists. But the feature directing debut for TV vet Richie Keen also represents a missed opportunity, given the talents of this charismatic and game cast. Moviegoers may respond well given the dearth of grown-up comedy on screens at the moment, but the pic will add little to the reputations of leads Ice Cube and Charlie Day.”
–John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter
“Yes, Fist Fight has enough crude sexual humor to fill two such mediocrities. But it’s also a consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the early 21st century. Don’t let that keep you away, though. It’s more often than not really funny… The movie packs an unusual amount of nuance into what’s on the face of it a pretty unsubtle premise.”
–Glenn Kenny, rogerebert.com
“The first rule of Fist Fight should be that we don’t talk about Fist Fight. The second rule of Fist Fight is that when all else fails – and believe me, it does – throw in another penis joke. A stunningly unnecessary comedy, Fist Fight perpetuates unoriginal characters, a preposterous premise and a half-hearted stand-up-for-yourself message.”
–Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail
“There is an obvious racial dimension to their conflict, though “Fist Fight” tiptoes around it, winking and whispering, with typical big-studio timidity. And it is certainly possible to interpret this movie as yet another fable of a white man’s redemption at the hands (or fists, as the case may be) of a black man… We learn nothing at all about Strickland, except that he is the subject of wild legends among the student body. His job in the movie is to teach Campbell some hard lessons about being a man. All of which is fairly tiresome. But it’s also possible to read “Fist Fight” against the interracial buddy-movie grain, seeing Strickland rather than Campbell as the protagonist, and taking Strickland’s anger as a principled response to circumstances rather than as evidence of a mood disorder. Strickland is an agent not of guilty racial fear but of righteous class consciousness. The lesson he imparts to Campbell is one of public-sector workers’ solidarity. By all evidence, he’s a pretty good teacher, with good reason to stay mad. Which cheered me up, I must say.”
–A.O. Scott, The New York Times