Looks like the filmmakers need to go back to school.
Synopsis: A group of troublemakers are forced to attend night school in hope that they’ll pass the GED exam to finish high school. (IMDB)
Starring: Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, and Rob Riggle
Writers: Kevin Hart, Harry Ratchford, Joey Wells, Matthew Kellard, Nicholas Stoller, and John Hamburg
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 111mins
This film had everything going for it. Here we go again with another Kevin Hart vehicle which are more or less the same though are often hit or miss. Tiffany Haddish is still a big name in comedies and she is back with the director who put her on the map with Girls Trip, Malcolm D. Lee. To top it all off, this film has 6 credited screenwriters to its name. This isn’t necessarily a negative as there have been a few instances where this has worked, however in this case, it was clear that there were too many cooks in the kitchen as the plot here gets pulled in so many directions and was full of derivative and plain old lazy writing that was both unfunny and a chore to watch.
The title pretty much gives the story away and is about a prototypical, down on his luck, loser Kevin Hart character named Teddy Walker. For whatever reason, Walker wasn’t the greatest student and ended up dropping out of high school. Despite this, life was fine for him. He had everything, including a fiancée named Lisa (Megalyn Echikunwoke) who was clearly out of his league to the point of non-believability. After a freakish turn of events caused him to lose his job, he would need to find another one fast so he can keep up appearances with his fiancée due to his own insecurity. The lack of a high school diploma held him back from finding the kind of job he wanted so he can provide for his fiancée. To get that job, Walker would need his GED so cue the night school taught by an overworked teacher named Carrie (Haddish).
The story had a little bit of everything, explaining its overlong running time of slightly under 2 hours, with little working. It had a pointless backstory for Walker used instead of real character development, a criminal amount of character development or even screen time for Carrie, and a group of eccentric character within Walker’s night school class who all went nowhere. Instead, the story was about Walker trying to get his GED by any means possible. Of course the other students had their own reasons for getting a GED but they didn’t matter whatsoever to the story. The film was a redemption story of sorts for Walker, however, the film will live or die on his likability. Some may find him likable but the film failed to give us any reason to care about any of the characters because of the lazy writing. While these characters could have been endearing, them along with the film’s predictable nature made the film feel even longer than it was.
The best part of the film was Haddish’s performance as Carrie but that’s unfortunately not saying much. She did the best with what she had by making the biggest impression, however, she always seemed disinterested. For the most part, everyone simply fell victim to the lazy script and lazy direction. Hart was fine as Walker despite the character being strikingly similar to several characters he’s played in the past. Though he and Haddish actually had decent chemistry, they were let down by the material (coincidentally co-written by Hart). The same was the case with the other night school students who were given the majority of the bad material.
Overall, this was an unfunny, overlong comedy whose lazy and derivative nature make it a chore to watch. This had no business being near 2 hours. The film never gives us any reason to care as everyone involved simply goes through the motions. Absolutely nothing worked here as there was no point to the story whatsoever. Kevin Hart plays the same character he’s played countless times before which will surely be enough for some people but we deserve better. Tiffany Haddish deserves better.