Night School

I missed the screening of this movie to go to the opening of the GI Film Festival (which is still going on). So I went to a Thursday night showing at the Reading Town Square. One guy in front of me had the loudest, most annoying laugh. My wife and I made a bet on how many times he’d loudly laugh during the movie. I guessed 9 times, she guessed 15. Well, he laughed 8 times before the opening credits started to roll (I stopped counting at 25, which he was up to about 15 minutes in). And so was the rest of the crowd. Surprisingly, the movie had a lot of laughs. It was written by six screenwriters (usually a bad sign), one of them being Kevin Hart, who was also the producer. It was a lazy, formulaic flick, but it had a great cast. Now, Tiffany Haddish is the one everyone praises (am I the only person that didn’t think Girls Trip was that funny?). She has a few funny scenes in this; my favorite being when Hart is looking at his girlfriend (Megalyn Echikunwoke) asleep in bed, wearing lingerie, and Haddish’s face floats around her butt, telling him he should be studying and putting his head into his books, not her booty.

My wife found it annoying to have the energy of both Hart and Haddish in the same movie (although I got her to admit she laughed a lot). I just think it’s a shame that Haddish will get all the praise for being the funny one in this, when the cast included Rob Riggle (Catalina Wine Mixer!!!!!), Mary Lynn Rajskub (24) — who cracked me up every time she talked about her horrible home life, but followed it up by saying “I’m blessed.” There’s Keith David (There’s Something About Mary) as the angry father, and the cast member that stole every scene he was in — Romany Malco (The 40-Year-Old Virgin).

Look…this is just one of those crazy comedies you can’t take seriously. It starts with Hart’s character, Teddy Walker, dropping out of high school. He did poorly, and claimed he’d be able to find success, get a hot girlfriend and drive a fancy car, without being one of the “sheep” all his classmates were. It’s strange that he was able to acquire all that merely working as a salesman for a BBQ grill company. When that job blows up in his face (literally), he’s out of work, and needs his G.E.D. to get a gig with his best friend (Ben Schwartz).

There are a handful of jokes that fall flat. There are also times scenes felt drawn out and should’ve been reigned in. For example, every time Haddish and Hart start in on each other, it’s funny. For the first few digs. It gets old quick. Yet there are also a lot of laugh out loud moments. I’m guessing I had about 10 big laughs watching this, and many times chuckling through out. That doesn’t mean this is a great film. I mean, it’s got the same tropes all those Breakfast Club type movies have — the misfit characters that we grow to love and root for, and the types of scenes you’ve seen hundreds of times on screen — breaking into a school to steal something, goofy dancing at the prom, a car being towed away while the person tries to fight for it, etc.

But for every cliche movie trope, there were two or three funny scenes. That’s a decent ratio.

Director Malcolm D. Lee worked with Haddish on Girls Trip, and it’s strange that that film was praised, while this is getting savaged by critics.

A year from now, I won’t even remember this movie. When one of my friends texts me from a Red Box asking me which movie to get, they’ll bring up the title and I’ll have to ask them to tell me who was in it. But for a fun two hours at the movies, it just barely gets a passing grade.

2 ½ stars out of 5.