Fist Fight (2017) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

Richie Keen’s “Fist Fight” is pretty much just a remake of “Three O’Clock High,” this time around it’s amped up to a lighter tone and steeped in hazy intentions. “Fist Fight” could have an important message to tell, but the commentary about public education, class overcrowding, and the under appreciation of teachers is lost in a flurry of empty sub-plots, pointless gags, and under developed characters. “Fist Fight” could have worked since the film itself does garner some laughs every now and then, but it never can figure out if it wants to make a social statement, or if it merely just wants to show Charlie Day and Ice Cube engage in a huge fist fight by the climax. For all intents and purposes, “Fist Fight” works in some areas, setting itself up as a teacher’s nightmare fueled by anxiety of unemployment and poor work conditions.

Charlie Day plays push over Andy Campbell, a savvy teacher who enjoys his job but is frightened at the school’s recent cuts. Worried about losing his job, he tries to get on the good side of militant and often angry fellow teacher Ron Strickland. Strickland is a man with an enigmatic past who takes his job very seriously, and is fed up with his work environment where students are allowed to stomp all over the faculty left and right. After a student prank, Ron loses his temper wreaking havoc on his class which prompts the pair of teachers to be sent to the principal’s office. With both jobs on the line, Andy squeals on Ron, prompting him to get fire. Angered at Andy’s willingness to bend over at threats, he challenges Andy to a fist fight after school. Left with no option, he begins scrambling to look for other options beyond getting in to a vicious fight he’s sure to lose.

“Fist Fight” isn’t the disaster I thought it’d be, but it can never seem to decide if it wants to teach us a lesson or deliver a slapstick comedy. Beyond Andy and Ron, the film is packed with a ton of quirky teachers, all of whom are wasted and have almost nothing to do except support the central plot. Christina Hendricks especially is in the movie for three minutes and has absolutely nothing to do but saunter around and remind us how sexy she is. Beyond that, “Fist Fight” is primarily Andy trying to squeeze out of the fight and overcome his anxiety involving losing his job and the fear of letting down his pregnant wife and young daughter. Ice Cube gives a very good performance, considering his character is so ill conceived. The writers seem terrified to give him any actual character based on the potential for a sequel, or maybe because Cube can’t handle the territory. Is Ron a villain or an anti-hero? Is he a bully, or does he just care too much?

Does he get violent because he loves his job too much or does he hate kids? Does he want to beat up Andy or teach him a lesson about standing up for himself? Where exactly does Ron come from? A lot of times the writers seem to want to dig deeper in to what Ron is doing and why he is so violent and hot headed, but they trade potential back story and substance for his character, with more screen time for folks like Tracey Morgan, and Jillian Bell to improvise. Both of whom are talented, but have zero effect on the overall narrative. Cube and Day are at least entertaining playing off each other and “Fist Fight” lives up to its promise of a throw down between the two actors. I just wish the writers would have tackled more complex ideas and cut out characters and flat running jokes (Yes, a horse on meth, I get it) in favor of more screen time for the two leads.

This may just have turned “Fist Fight” from an okay comedy in to a great comedy.

The release features a Digital Copy for consumers. If you count the bloopers in the closing credits, with extras, we get a two minute look at the Georgia Film Commission and how the crew enjoyed filming in Georgia. There are also twelve deleted scenes, all of which are either extended scenes of the ones we saw in the finished film, or introduced small segments and characters that were not present in the final film. The latter either have no place in the movie, or just slow everything down to a halt.