First Hit: Had an interesting start, faded quickly, and tried to redeem itself at the end.
I admit that I like Ice Cube’s intensity and he shows this part off in this film, however I must also admit that I’m so far away from what it might be like in a high school these days that I was taken aback by the way the kids interacted and the lack of respect they had toward school. Granted this was the last day of school and seniors tend to act poorly believing they are justified by acting stupid. But jeez, making the school out to be this way actually made the film worse.
The plot is that Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) and Strickland (Ice Cube) work at Roosevelt High School which we assume is the worst school in this LA suburb. Strickland barks at his students and is oppressive while Campbell tries to coax his students into learning. There is something wrong with a VHS machine in Strickland’s room and he asks Campbell to help him fix it. When Campbell figures out that it’s a student who is causing the issue, Strickland goes ballistic and takes an axe to the student’s desk.
Called into the Principal’s office, they are supposed to uphold the teachers code and vow to have each other’s back by not telling the truth about the classroom event. However, Campbell falters on the teacher’s code to keep his job and tells the Principal the truth about the axe incident. Strickland gets fired and vows to beat Campbell up after school. The proposed fight has the entire school body in a twitter with excitement.
There are other subplots in this film, including Campbell singing a song with his daughter Ally (Alexa Nisenson), the school being in a financial crisis has to fire a lot of teachers, the guidance counselor Holly (Jillian Bell) uses meth, is oversexed and wants to have sex with students, and Coach Crawford (Tracy Morgan) has a losing team and is sort of a joke in the school.
The only subplot that is interesting is the one with Campbell and his daughter Ally although her song in the end is a little over the top for grade school but was done for a point.
The middle of the film is a bunch of wasted motion of trying to have Campbell find a way to get out of the fist fight. Unfortunately, little of this film seems plausible and in the end when the fight does come to fruition the film pulls back together just a bit, but not enough to make sitting through the whole film interesting.
Day is OK. His voice grated on me because it seemed overdone. It was so wimpy and whiny that it didn’t work. Ice Cube is intense through most of the film but shows some humanity in the end. He does a good job of staying himself and somewhat unattached to this poor film. Bell’s character was an unneeded distraction and not needed. Morgan was more of the same, unneeded distraction. Both were in roles that does nothing to assist them in their careers except financially. Nisenson was the best of the lot. I liked her ability to be afraid of being seen as a wimp and a nobody and then powerfully doing her inappropriate song. Van Robichaux and Evan Susser wrote a very weak screenplay. It’s use of distracting characters to keep the film moving compounded its weakness. Although Director Richie Keen had a poor screenplay to work with, he did, from time to time, make a few scenes work.
Overall: This film was poorly conceived and the execution did nothing to make it any better.