There’s no way the charismatic comedic coupling of Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish could possibly fail to entertain an audience right? This is what the writers and producers behind Night School were thinking as they relied solely on Hart’s pleasantly predictable persona and Haddish’s sensational sidesplitting sass, foregoing to accompany them with anything else worthwhile.
The result is another cash grab movie that delivers some solid laughs but fails to set itself apart from all the other slapdash films that Hollywood has been flooding our theaters with for the last decade plus.
Night School is about a man named Teddy (Hart) who according to his best friend Marvin (Ben Schwartz) is living on a financial house of cards in an attempt to impress his girlfriend Lisa (Megalyn Echikunwoke). She’s a gorgeous, successful interior designer who’s out of Teddy’s league considering he’s a pint-sized high school dropout who sells barbeque grills for a living. (Sidenote: Will there ever be a Kevin Hart movie that doesn't feature a joke aimed at his diminutive stature? I think not.)
Teddy’s world gets turned upside down when he accidentally blows up his place of employment, prompting him to go to night school in order to get his GED and therefore a good job, all before Lisa can find out the truth about his dropout status.
Surrounding Teddy with a misfit cast of classmates sets the stage for lots of laughs. There’s the perpetually contradictory and machine averse Jaylen (Romany Malco), a soccer mom, Theresa (Mary Lynn Rajskub) who secretly, but not so secretly hates her life, a Hispanic former waiter Luis (Al Madrigal) with delusions of being a pop star, a coolly apathetic juvenile delinquent Mila (Anna Winters), an inmate played by Fat Joe who joins the class via Skype and the densest of them all Big Mac, played by the burly and always amusing Rob Riggle.
Night School shines whenever Haddish and Hart share the screen together. Still, the movie suffers from obvious flaws. Many of the jokes come cheaply, formulaic and slapstick in nature. The oddball classmates provide sufficient humor, but it seems as if they could have been mined for even more humor if given a little more effort.
Night School seems to be lacking a writer who cares. So many of the relationship dynamic between characters seem forced or underwritten. (For example, Teddy and Luis magically becoming great friends after Teddy causes Luis to get fired, Theresa magically fixing her marriage in a matter of 10 seconds).
Moreover, Night School has the potential to craft a relevant message, but instead settles for rudimentary humor and foregoes meaningful themes. Carrie is a caring dedicated teacher who goes the extra mile to help Teddy, someone who suffers from learning disabilities, the catalyst for his dropout. Instead of imploring upon these issues more deeply and poignantly, the writers settle for a joke about learning herpes. Briefly alluding to the unfairly pathetic pay that our nation’s teachers are subject to, instead of delivering commentary on this issue the writers settle for giving Haddish an uncalculated lesbian twist.
Although Night School will undoubtedly make you laugh, it’s another movie that is representative of the sad state that Hollywood is in. Studios are more concerned with riding the financial wave of pairing a proven comedic stalwart with a fiery ascending star than actually providing something meaningful to audiences. Newsflash, it’s possible to entertain while still being meaningful and artistic.
Movies like Night School stick to lazy formulaic writing because they can coast off of star power. Unfortunately, as long as these movies keep making money, nothing will change that.
Have you seen Night School? What did you think about the Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish comedy? Tell us below!