Fist Fight, which scores an F for effort, loses even more marks for the unpleasant, happy-slapping humour that underlies this ignorant dunce of a film.
The laughs are infrequent and the yuck factor high, as Charlie Day and Ice Cube duke it out to see who can torch their career most effectively within the film’s mercifully short runtime.
Day plays Andy Campbell, a mild-mannered English teacher and father-to-be, who attracts the ire of Ice Cube’s hard-nut history teacher Ron Strickland.
After Campbell reports Strickland to the principal for attempting to murder one of his students with an axe, the conflict between the two men begins to escalate.
Through a series of baffling set pieces, including teachers writhing in baby oil, f-bombs levelled at children, and countless random advertisements for Apple, we reach the titular fist fight – the only benefit of this being that it signals a very welcome end to the whole ridiculous ordeal.
If you told me that Fist Fight was written by a malfunctioning robot programmed to write zany one-liners for low-rent comedy flops, I would believe you.
The film sputters out gags about statutory rape, masturbating teenagers and meth-addicted horses with the alarming incongruity of a particularly unfunny Family Guy sketch.
The most frustrating thing about Fist Fight, however, is that I really like, and regularly find myself defending, the film’s two leading men.
If I had to bet on it, I’d say that Charlie Day, sick of his lucrative career as a comedy actor, made Fist Fight to ensure that nobody in Hollywood would want to cast him in a film again.
Day, who undermines all his good work in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, simpers through one cruel, unfunny and vaguely sexist joke after another.
What’s Ice Cube’s excuse? Well, one can only hope that capitalising on the success of Straight Outta Compton, he’s trying to fund an NWA reunion tour. Any other excuse would be unacceptable.
While you can’t expect too much from a man whose career highlights include Beef and Ride Along 2, Cube’s bombastic anger was put to such good use in 21 Jump Street that it’s really hard not to be disappointed this time around.
Having said that, the film does do a good job of transporting you back to your school days. Fist Fight leaves you swirlied, noogied and desperate to go home.