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Night School (2018)
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
4K UHD Released: 1/1/2019
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/27/2018
In most careers, you work your way up through the ranks, progressively doing more and better work, gaining more notoriety and status. Your peers recognize you and your accomplishments receive praise. The same is true in show-business, but due to the unique nature of this industry, this process can have a very different look. That is why some actors seems to come out of nowhere and are suddenly everywhere at once, despite the work which they've done in the past. A recent example is Tiffany Haddish. I'd never heard of this individual and suddenly she's starring in multiple projects and hosting Saturday Night Live. Will her fame last more than 15 minutes? Not if she keeps picking projects like Night School.
Despite being a high-school drop-out, Teddy (Kevin Hart) is a successful grill salesman who drives a Porsche and is dating Lisa (Megalyn Echikunwoke). However, when his job literally goes up in smoke, Teddy learns that he can't get a new job without his GED. So, Teddy ventures to his old high school looking for help and runs into Stewart (Taran Killam), a former classmate who is now the principal. Although this interaction does not go well, Teddy finds some support from Carrie (Tiffany Haddish), the night school teacher. Finding himself in a class filled with eccentric characters, Teddy must find a way to fulfill his goal while keeping the secret from Lisa.
Night School Director Malcolm D. Lee is the cousin of Spike Lee. In the same year when Spike did the seemingly impossible by creating a politically-charged piece which also works as a superb thriller inBlacKKKlansman, Malcolm has delivered a shockingly banal movie. One doesn’t necessarily expect a mind-bending script from a film such as this, but Night School takes its logline - “Man must go to night school in order to get a job” - and goes no further. The characters are all stereotypes (save for one, more on that in a moment), and the people in the classroom each fit a specific type of person. The story contains no twists or surprises. And here comes the weird part, it took six people to write this!
To be fair, most modern-day comedies don’t wallow in originality, so Night School’s familiarity shouldn’t be its downfall. The main source of disappointment here is the overall lack of laughs. Kevin Hart is a naturally funny person, but even he seems stymied the material here. Yes, he brings his usual manic energy to the role, and there are some funny lines which sound like ad-libs, but Teddy is such a shallow character that there isn't much for him to do. The scripts attempts to give Teddy depth only skew towards making Night School a more serious movie, and that's not what this needed. I've yet to see Haddish be funny in anything and for those looking for that here, they will find that her character is the "straight man", and it's her job to react to the wackiness happening around her. Some of the other characters interject slightly humorous things from time-to-time, but the comedy simply isn't there. A movie with Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle (who's NFL on Fox skits are some of the weirdest things on TV) should have been hilarious.
The one bright spot in Night School is that the trailers were somewhat misleading. They made it appear as if the movie was going to have Hart and Haddish going head-to-head as opponents. In actuality, and this is not a spoiler, Carrie is a devoted teacher and she wants to see Teddy succeed, despite his bad intentions. This actually makes her the most interesting character in the film and it's nice to see a semi-realistic portrayal of an education professional. This nugget doesn't keep Night School from being sub run-of-the-mill and it shows that, just like many comedic movie stars before him, Hart can choose the wrong project.
Night School should have focuses solely on Christian Chicken on 4K UHD courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 50 Mbps. I'm noticing a pattern with UHD's that the quality of the transfer is inversely proportional to the quality of the movie. In other words, Night School looks great. The colors are incredibly rich and realistic and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture is very sharp and clear, showing no defects from the source materials or any notable grain. The depth works quite well, and the level of detail is notable. The Disc carries a DTS-X audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 6.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The prom sequences delivers some notable surround and stereo effects. The music adds interesting subwoofer action. Some of the classroom scenes also show off how sounds have been placed in the various channels.
The Night School 4K UHD fails at extra features. There is an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Malcolm D. Lee. "Gag Reel Extra Credit" is a 5-minute reel of goofs from the set. The only other extra is the option to watch an extended cut of the film. Good luck with that. The remainder of the extras are found on the accompanying Blu-ray Disc. We get six DELETED SCENES which run about 13 minutes and can be viewed with commentary from Lee. There is also an "Alternate Opening" (6 minutes) which has Lee Commentary. "Night School's In Session!" (14 minutes) offers brief overviews of the film's 8 main characters. "Who's the Student? Who's the Teacher?" (3 minutes) has Hart and Haddish talking about what it was like to work together. "Prom Night Revisited" (3 minutes) takes us on-set for the prom sequence, and allows the actors to remember their own proms. Similarly, "Cap 'N Gown 'N Giggles" (2 minutes) focuses on the graduation sequence. "Making of the Dance Battle" (4 minutes) takes us back to the prom for some reason to examine the choreography. "Christian Chicken" (1 minute) is a fake commercial for the restaurant featured i the film. "Game Over" (2 minutes) allows Yvonne Orji to talk about her character...who is barely in the movie. "Extended Performance 'El Sueno'" (3 minutes) has a loner version of the song Al Madrigal sings in the film.
Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long