Cast: Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Rob Riggle, Taran Killam
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: Star Kevin Hart and producer Will Packer, who partnered for the hit Ride Along and Think Like a Man series, bring their signature style to Night School. The comedy from director Malcolm D. Lee (Girls Trip) follows a group of misfits who are forced to attend adult classes in the longshot chance they’ll pass the GED exam.
It seems as though at some point every year, we get the same type of formulaic Kevin Hart movie that will make a ton of money. Night School is this year’s installment of the Kevin Hart money-making machine and honestly, it is not that bad. While far from the best comedy of the year, it is not exactly the worst either. While far too long for its own good and missing that one scene that made me howl with laughter, Night School has enough charm and humor to create a film that is almost perfectly average.
The film follows Teddy (Hart), a high school dropout that lives his life as a grill salesman who spends most of his money trying to impress his girlfriend (Megalyn Echikunwoke). After an incident at work leaves him without a job, Teddy must go to night school to get his G.E.D. from a teacher that will not tolerate his lackadaisical approach to education (Haddish) and a principal that he used to bully in high school (Killam). One of the things that really helps the film is the supporting characters. While only Theresa (Mary Lynn Rajskub) is a somewhat developed character, the rest of them do a good job of filling in the roles they are supposed to. They tend to all play general archetypes that we seen many times before, but all of these actors do that job well. While I may not care about any of their lives and their attempt at a backstory, I never really thought I was supposed to care about them. This is Teddy’s story and these other characters are just there to tell a few jokes and move the plot along. Outside of the characters, the jokes themselves were not that bad. Hart and Haddish have a couple of good one-liners and the aforementioned supporting cast does well in their limited screen time. I will give the movie credit for being the only movie I have seen in a long time that had an unnecessary dance scene that I did not absolutely hate. Maybe it is because this film takes place in Atlanta and I love that they chose Outkast for this scene, but while the scene did not contribute anything new or interesting to the film, it was certainly more enjoyable than I anticipated. While the film certainly has a few things going for it, that does not mean it does not have its fair share of issues. For one thing, the film is way longer than it has any right to be. At 111 minutes, this movie has many scenes that could have been either edited down or cut out completely. Any of the scenes where Teddy goes to find a new job are bloated, and the movie spends an obscene amount of time showing the students trying to steal the answers to the midterm. On top of these scenes being too long for their own good, none of them have any moments that are particularly hilarious. Sure there are few jokes that made me chuckle here and there, but nothing on the level of a movie like Game Night or Blockers which have scenes that were some of the best comedic scenes in recent years. If you are going to stretch out a film, at least make those fillers scenes worth the payoff. Instead, we got scenes that lasted too long and did not add anything of true value to the film.
Overall, Night School has a few charming moments, but not enough to separate it from the plethora of generic comedies that already exist. If you enjoy Hart or Haddish in other movies then you will certainly enjoy them here, but I do not think this is the type of that will suddenly make you a fan of either actor. If you take this movie for what it is, a harmless comedy, then you should at least a somewhat good time with this movie. While not the worst movie to enjoy on a weekend, there are certainly far better options than Night School to pick from.
Overall Score: 4.5/10