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Fist Fight: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Fist Fight (2017) movie poster Fist Fight

Theatrical Release: February 17, 2017 / Running Time: 91 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Richie Keen / Writers: Van Robichaux, Evan Susser (story & screenplay); Max Greenfield (story)

Cast: Charlie Day (Andy Campbell), Ice Cube (Ron Strickland), Tracy Morgan (Coach Crawford), Jillian Bell (Holly), Dean Norris (Principal Richard Tyler), Christina Hendricks (Ms. Monet), Kumail Nanjiani (Mehar Kermani), Dennis Haysbert (Superintendent Johnson), Joanna Garcia Swisher (Maggie Campbell), Alexa Nisenson (Ally Campbell), Stephnie Weir (Suzie Ellison), Kym E. Whitley (911 Operator), Austin Zajur (Neil), Gordon Danniels (Irv)

Buy Fist Fight from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD DVD Instant Video

Charlie Day completes his rise to movie star in Fist Fight. Sure, he may be second on the poster and share diagonal billing in the credits with Ice Cube, a proven draw in two-handed comedies.
But the show belongs to Day, who is clear protagonist and appears in every single scene.

Day plays Andy Campbell, an English teacher in a public high school. It is the last day of the school year, a day that brings a host of senior pranks as well as a number of layoffs for the staff. Andy, who has a wife (Joanna Garcia Swisher) who's ready to push out child number two, is on edge about his uncertain employment status. His attempt to help feared history teacher Ron Strickland (Cube) with an A/V issue reveals another senior prank, this one provoking an over-the-top response from Ron. Both are called into the principal's (Dean Norris) office and asked to give an account of what happened. To save his own job, Andy lays the blame on Ron, who is given his walking papers.

English teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) takes desperate measures to get out of fighting an intimidating colleague on the last day of school.

But as you can surmise from the title or a one-line synopsis, Ron challenges Andy to a fist fight out in the parking lot after school at 3 PM. The challenge goes viral as Andy scrambles to either get out of the scheduled fisticuffs or prepare for it a little bit.

Those with a knowledge of comedy cinema may be quick to point out that the premise of Fist Fight is highly reminiscent of two films: the 1987 high school comedy Three O'Clock High and the 2001 Tim Allen flop Joe Somebody. In both movies, a bully challenges a clear underdog to a public battle. Three O'Clock High is pretty fun in an '80s teen movie kind of way. Joe Somebody is pretty terrible in an I-love-you-Tim-Allen-but-no kind of way. Fist Fight probably falls in between the two in quality.

It is not the barrel of laughs you might like it to be, but Day certainly makes for a compelling comic hero, as he has proven as the standout of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" (from which TV-seasoned director Richie Keen also hails), the Horrible Bosses movies, and even in the voice cast of Monsters University. He is by far the best thing about Fist Fight, even when he comes close to doing the unthinkable and (almost) playing the straight man.

Andy's quirky colleagues (Jillian Bell and Tracy Morgan) offer little guidance to him.

Cube is Cube, the one-note intimidating presence supposed to instill fear in all those around him, but especially Andy. You can probably read into the film's racial depictions and I have no doubt that some will. But that would require a deeper reading into the film than is warranted. This is a February comedy from Van Robichaux and Evan Susser, two young novice screenwriters who have already landed some potentially big follow-up gigs (a Sonic the Hedgehog movie and a Wedding Crashers sequel that I'll believe when I see).
They share story credit with actor Max Greenfield ("New Girl"), also making his writing debut. The writers try to inject some social commentary and a moral regarding the education system, but who would take any of that seriously in a film filled with phallic drawings whose secondary show-stopper is having Andy's young daughter performing far more of a profane Big Sean diss track than any elementary school assembly would allow? That rap performance drew bigger laughs at my screening than anything else in the movie. This is a film the general moviegoing public will enjoy more than my fellow critics. But neither group loved it.

Other characters include a meth-using teacher (Jillian Bell of "Workaholics") who dreams of making love to a student, an inefficient security guard (Kumail Nanjiani), a buttoned-down teacher with a dark side (an out of place Christina Hendricks) and a coach (Tracy Morgan) who buys skinny jeans in an effort to save his job.

Fist Fight is never subtle or smart. It's never painful, but it's never quite as diverting as you hope it would be.

As I expected, despite a relatively modest budget of just $25 million, the movie still ended up a commercial disappointment, grossing just $32 million domestic and a quarter of that overseas. Three months after its fifth place opening, Fist Fight hit stores this week in a DVD and the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack reviewed here.

Fist Fight: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.78:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
BD: 5.1 DTS HD-MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service, French, Spanish, Portuguese)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Descriptive Video Service, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; BD-only: Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($28.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Like the vast majority of new studio films in 2017, Fist Fight looks great on Blu-ray. The sharp, vibrant, and detailed 1.78:1 picture leaves nothing to be desired, while the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio meets high expectations as well.

Executive producer Marty P. Ewing marvels at the pranked principal office set in the seemingly contractually obligated "Georgia Film Commission." Kumail Nunjiani's security guard features prominently in the two longest extended scenes.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Though the case lists only one bonus feature, the Blu-ray actually contains two items.

"Georgia Film Commission" (2:08) celebrates the state where the film was shot.
Key creators sing the praises of the Commission and the local crew members. Not even bearing mention on the package, this puff piece screams "contractual obligation."

More interesting to most viewers, and found on both discs, is a long reel of ten deleted scenes (15:23). Mainly extensions of scenes that made the cut, these aren't noticeably better or worse than what's in the movie, just flabbier. They do include some more screentime for the humorous Kumail Nanjiani and outtakes.

The Blu-ray opens with a promo for 4K Ultra HD, a format this movie has not been released on at this time. The DVD opens with a pet owner-oriented anti-smoking spot and trailers for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, The House, CHIPS, and American Wrestler: The Wizard.

The menu plays some score over a static adaptation of the poster/cover art.

The two plain black discs share an eco-friendly keepcase topped by a standard slipcover.

All of "Fist Fight" leads up to the titular afterschool parking lot bout between Andy (Charlie Day) and Strickland (Ice Cube).

CLOSING THOUGHTS

After standout work in supporting roles and ensembles, Charlie Day deserved a chance to play lead in a comedy film. Unfortunately, Fist Fight does not make the most of his ample talents, relying on unimaginative high school pranks and gags to tell a story that has already been told at least twice on film. Fans of Day will still want to see this once, but the lower your expectations, the better. Warner's combo pack doesn't add much value to a middling film that is at best a borderline rental.

Buy Fist Fight from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: Why Him? The Sense of an Ending Monster Trucks
Charlie Day: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia The Hollars Horrible Bosses Horrible Bosses 2 Monsters University
Ice Cube: Ride Along 21 Jump Street Barbershop: The Next Cut

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Reviewed June 3, 2017.



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