Fist Fight, C
Rated R. 91 minutes
What's wrong with people, can't they just hug it out, agree to disagree and go on their way? That notion is the furthest from the minds of the mildly enjoyable but tiresome new low-brow comedy "Fist Fight," which is a one-joke movie made better by its two charming leads and a last act - including the extended, well-choreographed fight - that finally revs up the film before its over.
On the last day of the year, mild-mannered high school English teacher Andy Campbell ("It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's" Charlie Day) is trying his best to keep it together amidst senior pranks, a dysfunctional administration, and budget cuts that put jobs on the line. But things go from bad to worse when he accidentally crosses his much tougher and deeply feared colleague, Ron Strickland ("Ride Along's" Ice Cube), who challenges Campbell to an old-fashioned throwdown after school.
Directed by actor Richie Keen in his feature debut and co-written by Van Robichaux and Evan Susser, the mostly forgettable, unoriginal "Fist Fight" grows old quick and takes too long to get to the good stuff, but the cast has fun and manages to keep it afloat. A loose remake of the '80s cult hit "Three O'Clock High" with teachers instead of the students, it's more like a testosterone-heavy version Cameron Diaz's "Bad Teacher," something that most people likely aren't exactly clamoring to see again.
Cube can play the tough-talking street guy in his sleep, just as the anxious, put-upon loser is familiar to Day, so none of it is a real big surprise, and the first hour drags until it picks up with a talent show and the climactic fight in the parking lot, which is fun, though you have to sit though a bunch of silly, overdone gags to get there (two students mowing an obscene scene in the football field falls flat). The whole last-day-of-school-senior-pranks running gag grows old fast, not to mention that it's genuinely unrealistic given the fact that 99% of schools don't even go to school the entire day.
Jillian Bell, the fast-talking young villain from "22 Jump Street," and "Saturday Night Live's" Tracy Morgan steal scenes as a couple of teacher friends, while the real treat may be a mariachi band who plays the "Rocky" theme, a truly funny touch. "Fist Fight" does provide some laughs, but outside its last 30 minutes, most of its stuff you've seen done before, and better.