by Savanna Keller
Typically, people watch comedy movies to sit down, relax, and step away from the stress that life can bring. Comedies are a great source of light-hearted entertainment that promise a good laugh, and Night School (released September 28) seems like a movie that will do just that. This movie is produced by Will Packer, the same man responsible for producing the movies Ride Along and Girls Trip, and Kevin Hart, the star of the movie.
Teddy Walker, a man who struggles with learning disabilities, drops out of high school and makes a point of proving he can have an amazing life without an education. In the beginning he has it all, an awesome car, a successful salesman job selling outdoor patio furniture with the promise of one day owning the business, and let’s not forget the ever-popular movie trope: the hot dream girl that every man wants, Lisa (Megalyn Echikunwoke). After a proposal gone wrong, Teddy blows up his place of employment and his world is turned upside down. To get a new job, he must attend night school.
Meeting the team… or class
Co-Stars Kevin Hart (Teddy Walker) and Tiffany Haddish (Carrie, the night school teacher) make a perfect comedic duo. Together they amp up the snark and witty comments and pair it with their love of inappropriate jokes. That, however, is just the beginning of it. The obnoxious and easily despised antagonist of the movie happens to be the high school principal, Stewart (Taran Killam), who is also a former classmate of Teddy’s. Back in the juvenile days, Teddy bullied Stewart and now Stewart is ready to get his revenge. Stewart is known for his phrase “this is my house” when talking about the school and carrying a baseball bat around in the halls to bang on the lockers of the kids as he tells them to get to class.
Teddy’s misfit night school classmates each provide their own brand of humor to the plot. Between Mackenzie (Rob Riggle) who’s loud and always misunderstanding the situation, the guy who has a beef with computers, the waiter Teddy got fired, the guy who Skypes from prison, and Theresa (Mary Lynn Rajskub) who may have an abusive relationship and is sexually frustrated, there is always something going on. The cast creates a comedic team that plays off each other’s situations, whether its making fun of each other or getting each other into weird situations.
However, with a cast like the one in Night School I felt like they could’ve done more with the movie than they did. Carrie sasses Teddy, puts down his attempts to bribe his way through class, and beats him up several times. While these situations can be funny, they grow old after a while. Theresa’s life is depressing, and the movie tries to lighten the situation and make it funny by having her say “but I’m blessed” after every sad thing she says, but I couldn’t help but feel a little awkward after some of the things she says.
There are other parts of the movie that I felt weren’t very realistic or that they had gone to far. Some of the humor touches on sensitive subjects like abuse and race. Teddy’s father tells him he is worthless, and the movie tries to make it funny in the speech that he gives by saying the father was mean to make Teddy better. Theresa has a broken home and the type of relationship she has is not a funny situation. Stewart harasses the kids with a baseball bat and uses what the other characters refer to as “a black voice.” He also makes a comment during one of Carrie and Teddy’s fights that it must be a black people thing. These parts of the movie made the experience uncomfortable.
In all seriousness
While Night School’s main purpose is to provide humor to its audience, it does touch up on some heavy topics. Teddy is said to have learning disabilities, like dyslexia, dyscalculia, and a processing disorder. He paints a picture of what it’s like being an adult with those problems and tells a story of trying to overcome those disabilities. Teddy also has an emotionally abusive dad who puts him down and is always disappointed with him. He also has a sister who makes him feel inadequate because she is successful. Teddy lies to his fiancé about going to night school and, of course, she finds out. This forces him to come clean and learn that he doesn’t have to lie to be cool and have the girl. He faces his disorders and owns the truth to overcome his past.
The other characters touch on other issues as well. Mila (Anne Winters), one of Teddy’s night school classmates, got kicked out of school for drugs and it is through night school that she tries to put that life behind her. Theresa’s husband bosses her around and tells her what to do. He neglects her wants and needs and she gives off the vibe that she may be afraid of him. She lets him roll over her and tell her what to do until her night school friends tell her to do what she wants, and she finally gets the courage to stand up to him. These little stories almost make the movie heartwarming.
Featured image: YouTube
'Night School' is a mediocre comedy movie. Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish are the glue that keeps the film interesting. The movie’s humor borders on being crude, which may not be for everyone. The plot was decent, but the kind of jokes included could’ve been thought out a little more and handled with more care. Cloaked with comedy, it addresses a man dealing with learning disabilities and overcoming them, which gives the movie a heartwarming touch. However, that doesn’t manage to rescue 'Night School' from its own ineptitude.