Charlie Day owns one of the highest-pitched male squeaks in the business and he puts it to hilarious use on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I could watch him in anything – but Fist Fight is pushing it, given that’s it’s always raining a storm of comic clichés that quickly drowns any semblance of audience goodwill.
Day plays Mr. Campbell, a dweeb English teacher at Atlanta’s Roosevelt High where it’s senior prank day and our man is getting rattled. Forget the meth-drugged horse running through the halls or the dick images getting carved onto the football field – Campbell has to face something far scarier, a walking death-stare of a history teacher named Mr. Strickand (Ice Cube). He’s the kind of educator who deals with a bad-boy student (Austin Zajur) by grabbing a fire axe off the wall and smashing the kid’s desk into kindling. The English professor is horrified, but doesn’t rat on his peer until the principal (Breaking Bad‘s Dean Norris) threatens to fire his ass. Cue the conflict, which kicks in when Strickland challenges Campbell to a fist fight at 3pm in the school parking lot.
That’s the long and the short of it – the whole damn limp-dick of the movie. Director Richie Keen, who worked well with Day on several Sunny episodes, allows his star a privilege he denies other cast members: the chance to play someone recognizably human. First-time screenwriters Van Robichaux and Evan Susser have clearly never learned to spell the word subtlety, much less practice it, and the farce laid on like a weapon of mass destruction. Day’s the runt, Cube is the bully, and for a punishing 91 minutes of rank idiocy we wait for the big battle. In the meantime, Keen pads the story with one-joke characters: Christina Hendricks as a French teacher with giant breasts; Tracy Morgan as a coach with an unmatched record for losing; and the usually dynamite Jillian Bell as a predatory guidance counselor with a lip-smacking yen for teen penis. (She calls it “teenis.”) Adorable? You be the judge.