NIGHT SCHOOL REVIEW
Starring: Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, and Taran Killam
Directed By: Malcolm D. Lee (Girls Trip, Undercover Brother)
Rated: PG-13 (for some reason)
Runtime: 1 hour 51 minutes (for some reason)
On paper this is a movie that should be a slam dunk. Kevin Hart, funny. Tiffany Haddish, funny. A supporting cast that is really funny. A director that has directing a number of comedies to varying degrees of success. Malcolm Lee gave us last year’s surprise comedy hit, Girls Trip.
The premise of Night School is that a compulsive liar is trying to keep the woman who is out of his league, so he lives out of his league. Fast cars, big house, all to impress his girl. Something happens, and he is forced to look for a new job. I’m still on board. It still makes sense to me. He needs a GED to get most any job. So he has to go to night school to complete his degree. Tiffany Haddish is his teacher, she doesn’t take any crap from anyone. It all works for me. Somewhere along the way though, we get a bland comedy that has ZERO edge. I see Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish on a poster, I’m thinking hip and edgy. None of that came to fruition. Tiffany Haddish plays the straight man in this comedic duo. Which isn’t really a role that suits her. It felt like her part could have been played by anyone and they’re using Haddish to capitalize on her star power.
My first inclination is to blame the movie’s PG-13 rating. You lose a lot of edge there. Sure, you make more money initially, you can release an Unrated DVD. But the movie needed a bite to it that never got going. It feels really safe. Very made for television. If you’ve seen Girls Trip, you know it is at times very raunchy. And it delivered HUGE laughs. Night School never went anywhere close to being raunchy or inappropriate. Which there’s definitely an audience for, I’m not trying to say all movies without gross out humor aren’t funny. Those are just BIGGER laughs, in my opinion. This movie felt like it was trying to hit a stand up double, instead of swinging for the fences.
It’s certainly not all bad. The film has a surprising amount of heart to it. It has some ideas about the way we treat teachers in America today. It has a stellar supporting cast. Taran Killam, an SNL alum, is maybe the best part as the principal out to get Kevin Hart’s character and also has a fascination with black culture. Hart is in class with Rob Riggle who pops up in a ton of stuff, Rapper Fat Joe, who I was pleasantly surprised with his performance. And a few other characters who will make you go “ohhhhh THAT guy. I’ve seen him before”.
All in all, the best stuff was probably in the previews for Night School. At nearly two hours, it’s a little long. I was never bored. It moves pretty quickly. But no comedy needs to be two hours. It felt like I was binging a mediocre sitcom. The writing was episodic, we take about 20 minutes to solve a problem, then on to the next problem. It’s not a bad night at the movies, but something I talk about all the times is expectations.
Your expectations can really define what you think of a movie. Based on the comedies that have come out this year, Game Night probably being the best comedy of 2018 so far. Many others have been HIGHLY disappointing. It shouldn’t shock me that Night School didn’t deliver. But here am I, really wishing this movie was better. Bottom Line if you like the cast, I think you won’t be mad that you saw it. It has some good parts, but there isn’t a whole movie there. I’m willing to forgive that because I enjoy the cast. But you’re definitely going to wonder why it’s on cable every weekend.
On a "See It/Stream It/Skip It" scale, I'd say "stream it" if you like the stars, otherwise you can skip it.
If you liked Ride Along, Central Intelligence, or Billy Madison you might like Night School
2.5 out of 5 stars for Night School