Night School Review: Hart/Haddish Comedy as Painful as Dentention

Night School Review: Hart/Haddish Comedy as Painful as Dentention

PG-13: For crude and sexual content throughout, language, some drug references and violence

Universal Pictures, HartBeat Productions, Will Packer Productions

1 Hr and 51 Minutes

Dir: Malcolm D. Lee | Writers: Harry Ratchford, Joey Wells, Matt Kellard, Nicholas Stoller, John Hamburg

Cast: Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Rob Riggle, Taran Killam, Romany Malco, Keith David, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Ben Schwartz, Anne Winters, Bresha Webb, Fat Joe, Al Madrigal

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A group of troublemakers are forced to attend night school in hopes that they'll pass the GED exam to finish high school.

THE GOOD

Tiffany Haddish… God, I love that woman. She can do no wrong. If there is anyone that got me through this, it was Tiffany Haddish. The woman is naturally funny. From her dialect to her delivery, Haddish is able to strike a funny core laugh. It’s a shame that she isn’t in this movie that much. This is a KEVIN HART movie and oddly enough the supporting cast members are present longer than her even though she’s the only one putting in the effort. She is giving her all on this terribly incoherent screenplay and damn it makes me feel bad. I thought I was having Haddish fatigue because she’s been everywhere since “Girl’s Trip”, BUT THERE’S A REASON WHY! She’s hilarious on her own and doesn’t need to try too hard. Her persona is relatively pulled back a bit in this film; she is the only character that is grounded and straight-forward. The majority of my laughs came courtesy of her, and damn she’s way too good for this.

THE BAD

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Six writers. There were six fucking writers who contributed to this so-called “script” (including Kevin Hart), yet this is what we ended up with: a comically bankrupt movie that did not need to exist. The film has hilarious writers like John Hamburg (“American Pie”) and Nicholas Stoller (“Neighbors”) on board, plus 4 other guys, including Hart, and this screenplay is atrocious. The film is over-stocked by so many scenes that are either unfunny or take the most unnecessary routes to force a laugh out of you. There’s no reason in hell this film needed to be 111 minutes long. Almost two hours for a film called “Night School”, a concept that seems funny only in its trailers or for a 5-minute sketch on SNL, and the film displays why some onenote ideas should never be made into feature films.

As a matter of fact, THIS FILM WOULDN’T EVEN HAVE PASSED THE FIRE INCIDENT BECAUSE TEDDY (Hart’s character), WOULD’VE BEEN DEAD! He inadvertently sets his place of work on fire in a poorly-made CGI explosion and blasts off like Team Rocket in any given “Pokémon” episode.

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- First of all, he should’ve been burnt to a crisp.

- Secondly, he goes flying into the windshield of his car. In the next scene he’s perfectly fine when you know good and well, he should’ve been in a hospital for major injuries.

I’m not trying to over-analyze the elements of a comedy, but your jokes need to make sense instead of me having to suspend my disbelief.  

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It’s as if this movie was shot 3 weeks ago because this looks so poorly filmed. This is from Malcolm D. Lee and has the same quality as “Scary Movie 5”. Yeaaaah, remember how he directed that? He was on a good streak with “Best Man Holiday”, “Barbershop 3”, and “Girl’s Trip” which were all great works. The screenplays he worked with were great and the direction he gives his actors is amazing. This movie is about as lame as the average Tim Story film. Tim Story did the “Ride Along” movies and this is on the same bar as that. If this was a Tim Story movie, I would’ve known what to expect, but for someone like Lee, this is such a huge step back that it’s embarrassing. It’s not quite as embarrassing as doing “Scary Movie 5”, but it’s close.

Scenes drag on for so long and, for these comedic actors, a lot of their scenes feel like amateur night at the Apollo. Like, these are first-timers. The supporting cast is either quirky, stupid, or weird and they’re all trying too hard (with the exception of Romany Malco who completely steals the show, and even that doesn’t last long).

It’s as if you got all of the successful comedic actors of today and put them in a rejected SNL sketch. Shit, Taran Killam was on SNL!

“Night School” is one of those studio comedies that is comprised of 3 things:

  1. Reaction shots

  2. Catchphrases (Play a drinking game. Take a shot everytime Kevin Hart says “heh!”, Mary Lynn Rajskub says “I’m so blessed”, and Romany Malco says “that’s what’s up”.)

  3. Unnecessary non-sequiturs that add NOTHING TO THE PLOT!

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That is exactly what this 111-minute movie is dedicated to: scenes that add nothing to the story so you ask yourself “WHY THE FUCK IS THIS A MOVIE?!” Hart said he wanted to work with Haddish, but I’m telling you there was no script when he got her attached and they had 5 days to make one up. I believe there was a hilarious script at the beginning, but all the fucking hands and rewrites that got laid on the script boiled it down to one of the most banal comedies I’ve seen in a long time. Kevin Hart is funny as hell, but here he feels as tired as Adam Sandler was in “Pixels” because it's like he’s not even trying. The laziness that exists in the script as characters just ad-lib on screen are as lazy as their performances, with the exception of Haddish.


For the record, a sitcom-type score DOES NOT HELP SITCOM-TYPE COMEDY. I’m telling you this score is an annoying gospel organ that plays over comedic scenes of hijinks and it’s nothing but cringe. It doesn’t make scenes funnier, but instead accomplishes the complete opposite. It makes the scenes overall more grating than they need to be.

THE RENDY

Can we cast actual young actors to portray younger versions of characters in films? The movie opens in 2001 where Teddy is supposed to be 17, yet you see KEVIN HART AS A YOUNGER VERSION OF HIMSELF. Yeah, I get that he’s small as hell which doesn’t completely ruin it, but then you get Taran Killam and Ben Schwartz as younger versions of themselves, but THEY LOOK OLD AS HELL!

There are even scenes where the three of them are in their high school hallway surrounded by students who LOOK THEIR AGE! You’re already making them look like guys trying to get their GED before the plot even kicks off. Shoot, they look like Steve Buscemi in that “30 Rock” cutaway:

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Come on, I know this is a cheap comedy but put some fucking effort like Haddish is doing in her performance.

LAST STATEMENT

Lazy, padded out, longer than it needed to be, and just overall unenjoyable, there are possibilities for a good Kevin Hart & Tiffany Haddish comedy vehicle, but “Night School” is definitely not it.

Rating: 0.5/5 | 19%

0.5 stars

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