Getting physical with the cast of 'Fist Fight'

Chances are good that you won't have terrific actors like Dean Norris or Tracy Morgan at your disposal, but if you did, you could probably think of better ways to use them than veteran TV director Richie Keen (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) has.

The new movie Fist Fight is a classic high school showdown with a twist - two teachers are at the center of the brawl. The movie stars Charlie Day as mild-mannered English teacher Andy Campbell who accidentally gets Ice Cube's Ron Strickland fired.

Then he runs afoul of hard-ass teacher Mr. Strickland (Ice Cube), who's already struggling with reaching his history students. You know he's the Nice Guy Who Needs To Loosen Up because he wears a suit and tie and talks about responsibility.

As the hallways descend into anarchy, complications lead Strickland to target his rage toward Campbell. There's a pretty amusing running gag about how the senior pranks have gotten more outrageous (the drugged horse running around the halls is a clue), but there's also serious business afoot: The school district is cost-cutting, and some teaching jobs are on the line. Here we're just waiting for one, and it gets boring fast.

While Fist Fight doesn't have the most exciting premise, as the main focus is just on Strickland and Campbell eventually locking horns, the film's simple plot allows for a myriad of hysterical moments.

They want angry Ice Cube and nerdy Charlie Day facing off. When it's filming time, I'm pretty much focused. As established at the outset, "Fist Fight" is set in the world of the ridiculous, so it follows that Campbell would go to insane lengths to avoid the fight with Strickland, including buying drugs from a student to plant on his colleague.

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The thing is, Campbell is definitely in the right to have the risky Strickland canned, even if the guy is the only employee of the school with any control and authority, as well as the only person with any reason when it comes to school budget spending and the interests of his students (plus he loves Ken Burns documentaries). "I was an 18-year-old kid", Day said.

The movie also features Christina Hendricks, Tracy Morgan and Jillian Bell.

For Morgan, getting back into the game was challenging.

Anyone looking to see Ice Cube and Charlie Day sink their teeth into some meaty roles will have to look elsewhere, as "Fist Fight" offers exactly what you would expect from these performers. Even with the additional storyline padding of layoffs, marital stress and Senior Prank Day, Fist Fight just barely scrounges up enough material to fill its ninety-minute running time.

Day: So the challenges for us really were just trying to put together this movie in the ideal way that we wanted to put it together. The cowardly, desperate Campbell is no more sympathetic than the glowering, short-tempered Strickland, and even Campbell's pregnant wife and young daughter are obnoxious. Movies like Fist Fight may get more audible reactions out of audiences than, say, Three O'Clock High, but they're never anywhere near close to being as memorable.

Filmed in 2015, "Fist Fight" sat on the shelf for about year.

  • Stacy Houston