I have never seen a movie that has such contempt for schools and everything in schools, from teachers to students to administrators. Fight Fist is almost as insulting to the profession of education as nominating Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education was. This feels like a Trump world view of teaching.
As a teacher, I found this entire film insulting. If there had been anything funny about it, I could have dealt with it, but there were only two moments that were even remotely humorous (meaning I chuckled or smiles). One was when the high school students were spreading stories about Mr. Strickland (Ice Cube) and his past. Those little vignettes were cute. And the second time is when Charlie Day does a song at a talent show with his elementary school aged daughter and she breaks into a song filled with profanity. That is because, you know, little children swearing is funny (not really, but the surprise factor did bring a smile).
That was it. The rest of the time was filled with ridiculous situations where rotten, asshole children were pulling mean (if not criminal) pranks on stupid and brain dead teachers. All the while, the principal(Dean Norris) and superintendent (Dennis Haysbert) are firing teachers because they can.
In the story, after Strickland used an axe to chop up a student’s desk on the last day of school, Mr. Campbell (Charlie Day) “snitches” on him which is bad because, you know, teachers are supposed to have each other’s backs. So, to get his revenge, Strickland challenged Campbell to a fist fight after school. The news of this fight spread across the school and the community with the hashtag #teacherfight.
Campbell is a weaselly little coward so he spends the rest of the school day trying to get out of the fight, doing things that are just stupid and moronic. Even worse, the film tries to spin it so Strickland is seen as a hero fighting for support of the school instead of the bully that he was.
The film’s message is that the nice and friendly teacher gets walked over while the only type of teacher that can control a classroom of rowdy high school students is the one that is mean-spirited and who is willing to swing an axe as a way to prove his point.
The principal was shown as a cruel man who hated his job. The superintendent only cared about his fishing trip. The guidance counselor (Jillian Bell) is a drug addict sex fiend, as the film makes fun of a teacher trying to have sex with one of the students. The coach (Tracey Morgan) is downright stupid, as he cannot tell that a student is mowing the grass in a certain phallic shape. And why are students mowing the grass in the first place? Then they chalk the field in a way that any coach would see…except for this one.
Somehow, these characters are able to run around the school (or to the mall, in Campbell’s case) spending almost no time in the actual classroom. I am not sure how they find the time in the day for this. I know I do not have time to waste as these teachers apparently do.
The film also makes police officers look like a joke. As seen in the trailer, Campbell called the police to report another teacher threatening him and the police laugh it off and tell him to “take his ass whooping.” Then, somehow, that 9-1-1 call ends up on YouTube later that same day.
The fight at the end of the film is so stupid that you cannot even suspend disbelief to enjoy it. When Campbell and Strickland end up in jail (and get out before the end of the school day, amazingly), we see Strickland take down a huge criminal in just a few seconds, but he spends a lot of time fighting wimpy little Campbell, who was literally a third of the size of the criminal from the jail cell. Part of the joke was how much of a “pussy” Campbell was and how he had no idea how to fight, but yet when the fight came around, he carried on like he was some kind of super hero.
Of course, everything was going to come to a happy conclusion as Campbell earned Strickland’s respect and Campbell stopped being a nice guy and started yelling and cursing. By the way, no teacher is going to be swearing like EVERY teacher was in this movie. It is absolutely unrealistic.
And the “pranks” pulled by the students are not possible either. There is a horse on meth running around the halls. They took the principal’s car, vandalized it, and somehow got it into the school. There is one boy masturbating in the bathroom and he continued even after being caught. Two students opened up a trophy case and set up a video of porn. They set up trip wires that triggered paint guns. The kid whose desk was chopped up earlier turned out to be a drug dealer (though he was dealing aspirin).
A school can be the subject of a satire, and there are plenty of realistic problems that could be made fun of by a talented film. This was so dumb and unrealistic that it pulled me out of the film completely. This just cannot or would ever happen. And all of that could be okay if the film was just funny. And it is not.
I hated this movie.