Saturday, May 20, 2017

'Fist Fight' Is a 'Three O'Clock High' Rip-off

Back in the 90’s, one of the movies I saw during my regular HBO binging sessions was an 80’s teen movie called Three O’Clock High.  It’s about a meek high school student named Jerry who inadvertently pisses off a new student named Buddy, who happens to be a bully.  As a result, Buddy challenges Jerry into a fight after school – 3 o’clock – at the parking lot, and the news spread across the student body.  Jerry then spends the next six hours trying different ways to avoid it, including reasoning, running, and bribery.  However, in the end, he finally gets fed up with how pathetic he is, mans up, and decides to fight Buddy.  In the aftermath, Jerry earns the respect of Buddy.

Well, the premise and plot structure of Three O’Clock High is very similar to this 2017 comedy film called Fist Fight.  But instead of high school students, the fight is between two high school teachers – mild-mannered English teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) and ferocious History teacher Ron Strickland (Ice Cube).  Set in a delinquent, underfunded high school undergoing downsizing, teachers like Andy are constantly disrespected and pulled pranks on by the students.  Ron, due to his fearsome personality and readiness for violence, is the only teacher capable of intimidating them to behave.  But after Andy tells the principal about the Ron’s recent outburst, the latter challenges the former to a fist fight after school – an event that quickly becomes “viral” across the student body and beyond.  Andy then spends the day trying different ways to avoid it, but, in the end, decides to man up and fight Ron.  In the aftermath, Andy earns the respect of Ron.
Yep, this movie is practically a Three O’Clock High rip-off.  Though Fist Fight has some additional subplots and dynamics, the general arc is essentially the same.  There are even beat-for-beat moments in it that make it all but certain that either the director or the writer – or both – had based this movie on Three O’Clock High.

There are chuckles here and there.  But nothing notably hilarious.  If you are familiar with their past works, well, the jokes are pretty much what you would expect from cast members Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, and Jillian Bell.

In the end, Fist Fight is a serviceable, run-of-the-mill comedy.  Three O’Clock High just did its thing better, though.

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