Starring: Kevin Hart (JUMANJI 2 , SECRET LIFE OF PETS , RIDE ALONG , and upcoming films THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2  and Jumanji 3 ), Tiffany Haddish (UNCLE DREW , GIRLS TRIP , KEANU , and upcoming films THE OATH  and NOBODY’S FOOL ), and Megalyn Echikunwoke (CHIPS , THE MEDDLER , and the upcoming LATE NIGHT )
Support: Ben Schwartz (LATIN LOVER , THE INTERVENTION , THE WALK , and upcoming films WE ARE UNSATISFIED  and SONIC THE HEDGEHOG ), Mary Lynn Rajskub (WILSON , and upcoming films BENJAMIN  and COLD BROOK ), Anne Winters (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), Rob Riggle (MIDNIGHT SUN , LATIN LOVER, GREEK WEDDING 2 , HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA  and 2 , and upcoming films THE WAR WITH GRANDPA  and THE ARK AND THE AARDVARK ), and Keith David (THE NICE GUYS , and the upcoming HEADSHOP )
Director: Malcolm D. Lee (GIRLS TRIP and BARBERSHOP 3 )
Writers: Kevin Hart (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), Harry Ratchford (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), Joey Wells (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), Matthew Kellard (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), Nicholas Stoller (CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS  and STORKS ), and John Hamburg (ZOOLANDER 2 )
Composer: David Newman (GIRLS TRIP, SCOOBY DOO  and MONSTERS UNLEASHED , DR. DOLITTLE , Bill and Ted EXCELLENT ADVENTURE  and BOGUS JOURNEY )
Cinematographer: Greg Gardiner (GIRLS TRIP, BARBERSHOP 3, MEN IN BLACK II , and the upcoming THE WAR WITH GRANDPA)
Editor: Paul Millspaugh (GIRLS TRIP and BARBERSHOP 3)
This is my honest opinion of: NIGHT SCHOOL
Teddy Walker (Kevin Hart) is a high school dropout, but that hasn’t stopped him from hustling himself a nice car and a beautiful and wealthy girlfriend, named Lisa (Megalyn Echikunwoke), despite working in the local Joe’s BBQ City grill store as the top salesman, which Lisa is perfectly fine with. And after the owner of BBQ City reveals that he plans to turn over the store to Teddy when he retires, he celebrates by proposing to Lisa in the store. However, a gas leak happens and is ignited, causes the store to explode. While both Teddy and Lisa are okay, the resulting destruction causes Teddy to lose his job. His high school friend Marvin (Ben Schwartz) is willing to hook him up with a job at his company, which will pay well, but that requires a GED, which Teddy never got. Now, all he has to do is take night school lessons to catch up, alongside other adults with similar goals, with the help of the hard, but passionate teacher, Carrie Carter (Tiffany Haddish).
I’m not calling it a good movie. I’m not calling it a funny movie. But… I will say that this is the one project that Kevin Hart has put out that I respect most.
I’m going to start with that. The message of the movie is actually quite admirable. The general theme of the movie is that you can achieve your GED no matter how old you are. No matter how many times you need to take a test, with hard work and conviction, you can achieve that goal. Somehow, I really related to that message and even appreciated it.
And I have to give an extra special shout out to Mary Lynn Rajskub as Theresa, who was far and away the funniest person in this damned movie. I don’t know what it is, but her comedic timing, her line deliveries, they all struck a chord with me. She stole the show like highway robbery. Whenever she reminds herself that her life sucks as a housewife, she doses off into space and has to snap back into reality with a cheerful smile and plucky attitude that I found absolutely delightful.
I’m also not going lie, I appreciate that Teddy never has a romantic fling with Carrie (Tiffany Haddish). I feel like any other Hart movie would have totally gone that route, but this one shows a surprising amount of restraint. The focus is that Teddy is trying to be the man that Lisa thinks he is, the man that he’s working his ass off to being for her. Not that I promote the idea that either men or women should change who they are to appease a man or woman for their affection, I can appreciate a sense of focus for the characters that isn’t always there in a Hart movie.
Little enjoyable things, let’s see. Keith David is always a plus. I absolutely adore this man and if I ever see him in the flesh, I get giddy with excitement. I will never hate anything that he does. A few other gags got me going too. Like, Big Mac’s (Rob Riggle) jump from one rooftop to another, that got me. Some of Mila’s (Anne Winters) sarcastic responses got a kick out of me, stuff like that saved this movie a little.
With all that said, I can’t keep complimenting this movie.
This movie has zero laughs for the first half. Every joke that’s supposed to be landing, isn’t. As a whole, the movie is very similar to every Kevin Hart film that I’ve ever seen. It’s just him screaming and screeching at everything that his character doesn’t agree with. What is it with people who think when he does that, it’s automatic comedy? Why is it never what he’s actually saying? The context of his dialog? Just because he’s funny in his stand-ups, doesn’t mean he’s automatically funny in his films, which are written by other people. That’s a consistent problem with the movie, that nearly every joke is a dud. I give credit that nothing is offensively bad, but no laughs still has to mean something.
I absolutely despise Teddy’s motivations for keeping his night school classes a secret from Lisa. Not that the movie doesn’t acknowledge this later, but if he doesn’t trust that Lisa loves him for who he is rather than what he has, then he shouldn’t be in a relationship with her because he doesn’t trust her. Even if she would judge him for not being the big shot that he parades himself as, then why is being with her such a big deal? It’s basically stating that he himself is only with her because she’s attractive, not because he thinks she’s smart, or an ass-kicker in her own right. She’s a trophy, nothing more. In retrospect, this movie is pretty sexist in that regard. Not only that, it’s a liar-reveal story! Even the most uninitiated could guess how a story like this ends! At the end of the day, this movie is pretty predictable. Not all of it, maybe, but enough of it that watching it is pretty pointless.
Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed a few things in this movie. Oh, it’s not always funny. In fact, most if the time, its humor is dead as a corpse. It obviously another exploitive comedy starring black people who love Hart and Haddish. Actually, I might have to take that back because the fairly-packed auditorium that I was in didn’t have a whole lot of laughs either. So maybe even the intended audience had a lukewarm reaction to this. With all that said, I don’t think it’s a completely lifeless corpse. It has an admirable message to it and at least one actor makes for an enjoyable experience… compared to the rest of what this movie offered anyway. As a recommendation, I say it’s a pass. If you’re fan of either Hart or Haddish and just have to see this movie, save it for a rental then. I won’t give a hard endorsement because I don’t completely like it, but it’s not the trainwreck that it could have been. Take it for what you will.
My honest rating for NIGHT SCHOOL: a weak 3/5
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