Sunday, 21 October 2018

REVIEW: ‘Night School’ flops with ill-placed humor, confusing message

REVIEW: ‘Night School’ flops with ill-placed humor, confusing message
04 Oct

Comedies are supposed to make people laugh. It’s simple. Their only job is to be humorous and hopefully leave the audience in a better mood than when they entered the theater.

When a comedy fails at doing that job, the result is often a confused and disappointed audience that regrets spending its money to see that movie.

“Night School,” the latest comedy starring Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish, delivers the latter.

Directed by Malcolm D. Lee (“Girls Trip”, “Scary Movie 5”), “Night School” depicts a man named Teddy (Hart) who, after he loses his job as a salesman, fears his fiance will leave him if he doesn’t get a new, well-paying job. To avoid that, he goes back to school to get his GED. Teddy quickly finds the schoolwork to be a little more difficult than he anticipated, though the teacher (Haddish) is determined to help Teddy pass by any teaching means necessary.

Most people have at least one class they took in high school or college they just didn’t have any interest in. They might have put some effort into the class toward the beginning of the semester, but ultimately it was too boring to be worth the money spent on it.

“Night School” is the comedic movie equivalent of that class.

While there are some humorous moments in “Night School,” the amount of jokes that didn’t work and the film’s confusing message prove to be too much for the movie to handle.

Let’s start with the message the film tries to present.

“Night School” is trying to highlight the old “You can’t ask a fish to climb a tree” theme, which is admirable. However, it handles that message very poorly. At some points in the film, they seem to be arguing that stupidity in general just doesn’t exist. They do this through the development of the characters and the conversations between Haddish and Hart’s characters. It’s almost as if the film believes there are no stupid people in the world.

While that might be a nice thought to have, it’s simply untrue. Stupidity exists. It can often be found pretty much wherever you look. I don’t believe that message is necessarily what Lee wanted to present in his film, but that’s the way it seemed. It is a result of poor execution of ideas.

Additionally, the film’s humor seems to fly in the face of that major fish-climbing-tree theme.

Most of the humor in “Night School” consists of jokes saying “Hey! Look how stupid and weird these characters are!” The students in Teddy’s night school class are the cardboard cutout, idiotic characters you’d expect to be written by an eight-year-old. There’s the jock who doesn’t seem to understand anything, the overly excited woman who confidently gets every answer wrong and a few racial stereotypes as well.

That kind of humor mixed with the film’s failed “nobody is stupid” message comes off as incredibly distasteful, and I’m not entirely sure who thought this was a good idea.

“Night School” is the kind of comedy that should stay in 2018. After it’s done playing in theaters, we should all just agree to never talk about it again. This isn’t the type of comedy we still want to be making in 10 years. We’re better than that.



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