Back when I was in high school, I always wondered if teachers ever got into fights with each other in the break room. There were always rumors of teachers who didn’t like each other, and there were the ones who took that dislike to another level. I can’t say that I ever saw a fight break out between teachers in a parking lot, but as I watched Ice Cube and Charlie Day in Fist Fight, I wished that I had.
When I saw Fist Fight, a teacher-vs.-teacher comedy directed by Richie Keen from a script by Van Robichaux, I needed a fucking laugh. I had just watched the news, and there was Donald Trump’s face again. I wanted to punch it. And punch it hard. I was like Ice Cube’s character, Mr. Ron Strickland: angry. So what better way to spend an evening out than to watch a movie about two teachers who hate each other so much, it drives them to have an all-out brawl in the parking lot on the last day of school? Sure, this probably wouldn’t happen in real life. But it’s a movie, so it happened.
Fist Fight stars Ice Cube as Strickland, a teacher who is basically fed up with the system, the school year, the budget cuts and the students, as well as his colleague Mr. Andy Campbell (Charlie Day). Campbell, who is stressed about losing his job to budget cuts, crosses Strickland at the wrong time and wrong place and is accused of getting Strickland fired. When Strickland declares war and tells Campbell to meet him in the courtyard on the last day of school, he isn’t joking.
Day and Cube aren’t the only people in this high school who make the movie funny as hell. There’s Jillian Bell’s character, high school guidance counselor Holly, who likes meth and doesn’t mind talking about her desires for male students. Then there’s Christina Hendricks as Miss Monet, a knife-loving sadistic teacher who has the hots for Strickland. Let’s not forget Tracy Morgan, the gym teacher who doesn’t even realize that his students are up to no good. Morgan’s character, Coach Freddie Coward, is goofy and just not that bright, but it makes for a few laughs, especially when Morgan’s longtime bit about getting someone pregnant is thrown into the script.
Some of the funniest moments come from Bell, whose deadpan humor is perfection and makes you forget her character’s trying to sex up her male students. Day and Cube’s chemistry on-screen, even though they beat each other to a pulp, is reminiscent of The Odd Couple’s Oscar and Felix. They hate each other, but in the end they realize they have more in common than they think.
Just imagine a John Hughes high school film set in the present day with social media, teachers going buck wild and jokes that probably wouldn’t fly if real teachers were handing them out. Fist Fight isn’t for the faint of heart; by “faint of heart,” I mean those who prefer their humor “nice.” And in our current times, although you can’t walk around punching people you despise in the face, the movie will make you not think about what’s going on in the news—at least for 91 minutes.
Take a look at my interview with the cast below:
And a funny moment with Tracy Morgan:
Fist Fight is now playing in theaters nationwide.