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Fist Fight (2017)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/30/2017

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/29/2017

Many of our conversations about movies and their stories deal with ideas. Most movies begin with an idea (beyond, "Hey, let's make some money!") and the script builds from there. And, in most of these cases, the idea is a good one, even if the movie doesn't emerge as a winner. Every once in a while however, we get a movie where the central concept isn't really a home run. But, that doesn't ensure that the movie will fail. The kernel at the center of Fist Fight doesn't smack of greatness -- So how is the rest of the film?

Fist Fight takes us to Roosevelt High School, where the school year has come to an end. This means that the place is coming unglued and the students are pulling pranks on everyone, especially the teachers. As if that weren't bad enough, the school system is dealing with budget cuts, and many of the faculty are learning that they are losing their jobs. Things are especially hectic for Andy Campbell (Charlie Day), not only is he dealing with the students and the job stress, but his wife (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) is very pregnant and he's supposed to help his daughter with her school talent show. Unfortunately, Andy runs afoul of Mr. Strickland (Ice Cube), which leads to a confrontation with Principal Tyler (Dean Norris). Now, Strickland wants to fight Andy after school. At first, Andy thinks that this is a joke, but he soon realizes that Strickland is serious. Now Andy must not only fulfill his day, he must survive it.

The three writers on Fist Fight have crammed a lot of idea into this movie. We have the last day of school, the pranks, the unemployment anxiety, the pregnancy, the talent show, and the impending fight. But, that is only the tip of the iceberg. We also have the guidance counselor (Jillian Bell) who wants to seduce students, the absent-minded coach (Tracy Morgan), and teacher who hates Andy (Christina Hendricks). Within the framework of a very, very limited plot, we have a lot going on.

And none of it meshes or feels as if it belongs in the same movie. I guess if you want to really go out on a limb, you could say that the movie wants to juxtapose the nervous naivety of Andy with all of the craziness going on around it. But, that would be a very thin limb, as the movie clearly doesnít care about having an actual story. Charlie Day is channeling Ben Stiller and/or Jason Bateman, as he plays the jittery everyman who is placed in a situation in which everything is out of control and everyone seems to be out to get him. Fist Fight wants to be a wild ride through Andyís crazy day.

Well, thatís not its real desire -- Itís real desire is to be shocking and in your face. From the opening shot, Fist Fight wants us to know that it is here to be raunchy and crazy and that nothing is going to stop it from its mission. And from there, things just get more and more raw. Now, there's nothing wrong with this style of humor necessarily, but this movie is simply too mean-spirited about it. Everyone in this movie is a bad guy and everyone is out to hurt or demean everyone else. The result is something which at no time attempts to be clever or smart in any way. This is simply one vulgar joke after another with no effort to bring things anywhere above the lowest common denominator. I don't think that I uttered anything stronger than a slight chuckle here, as the comedy flies out the window during the first few minutes. The coup de grace comes when the finale liberally steal from Little Miss Sunshine.

Of course, it's not surprising that Fist Fight would go in this direction, as there's no way that the concept can work. I'm sure that the three writers behind the film thought that they'd struck gold when they stumbled upon the idea of teachers fighting after school instead of students. That nugget had little chance of succeeding as it is, but this approach dooms the film. If you know anything about the American education system, teachers have it hard enough as it is, they don't need to be brawling with one another. The movie does make an attempt at having a conscience with a little speech about teachers getting respect towards the end, but it is already far too late for this classless and morally bankrupt movie. Class dismissed.

Fist Fight will do nothing to aid with school funding on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is nice and the depth works well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The hallway scenes provide some nice stereo and surround effects which move well through the speakers. The in-film music delivers noticeable subwoofer effects. All of these sounds are nicely distributed through the speakers.

The Fist Fight Blu-ray Disc contains only two extra features. "Georgia Film Commission" (2 minutes) is a brief piece in which the filmmakers talk about the appeal of shooting in Atlanta. Really? Someone else must have been doing the driving. The Disc contains eleven DELETED SCENES which run about 15 minutes. Some of these are extended scenes, while a few are ones which didn't make the final cut, but none contain new characters or subplots.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long