Night School: Film Review

I didn’t have the highest hopes for Night School, but I wanted to check it out because I love Tiffany Haddish – and she is literally the only good thing about this absolute misfire.

She plays Carrie, an unorthodox teacher at Piedmont High School in Atlanta who has been put in charge of running the night school program. Among the adults wanting to get their GED (General Equivalency Diploma), which means they will pass high school, is Teddy Walker (Kevin Hart). Teddy dropped out of high school because he struggled to learn, and 17 years later, he realises it’s tough to get a decent job without it, following the closure of the BBQ business he worked at. He has been promised a job with his best bud Marvin (Ben Schwartz) if he passes his GED, but Teddy hopes to just lie and blag his way through, like the way he has been faking a luxury lifestyle for his girlfriend Lisa (Megalyn Echikunwoke).

In night school he is joined by the likes of Big Mac (Rob Riggle), Jaylen (Romany Malco), Theresa (Mary Lynn Rajskub), Luis (Al Madrigal), Mila (Anne Winters), as well as Bobby (Fat Joe) via Skype from prison. They are a rag-tag bunch, with a variety of reasons for attending the program, though none of them seem bothered about putting in the time in to learn – something Carrie is determined to change.

Night School is supposed to be a comedy, so naturally I was surprised that it wasn’t that funny. AT ALL. I laughed out loud a couple of times maybe. There are jokes everywhere but hardly any of them work. It was trying far too hard. I usually love Hart and his brand of comedy and he was working overtime to make the laughs happen, really doing his hardest, so I almost felt awkward that I wasn’t finding him funny. The script just wasn’t strong, maybe the fact there are six credited screenwriters – including Hart and Seth Rogen‘s regular collaborator Nicholas Stoller – has something to do with it.

Haddish easily came out on top though. She established herself as the one to watch with Girls Trip last year and she continues to do so here, giving more energy, enthusiasm and sass than anybody else. It was nice to see her playing a no-nonsense yet sympathetic teacher, one who generally cares about her students, as it was so different to her usual persona. She got to inject her own style of comedy though, so got some of the best lines, and her outfits were sweeeet.

I liked Fat Joe, purely because I was astonished to see Fat Joe on my screen, while Malco and Madrigal did make me chuckle a few times. Taran Killam, as the high school principal Stewart, someone who hated Teddy in school, was on par with Hart for trying really hard and failing.

I have a pet peeve when it comes to CGI – if you don’t have the budget to do it well, don’t do it. There is such a bad piece of CGI in this, in a moment that was designed to be funny, and not one person laughed. Perhaps because the CGI was bad, but it also could have been because Teddy should legit be dead. It was ridiculous. There were quite a few random, unnecessary action sequences – I used that term loosely – that were clearly used to drum up excitement levels.

Night School is a shame because Hart and Haddish are good comedians and director Malcolm D. Lee‘s previous film, Girls Trip, was hilarious and such a surprise hit. This is a total misfire.

In cinemas now 

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