Starring: Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Taran Killam
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Running Time: 111 mins
Night School is an American film about a high school dropout who, just after getting engaged, decides to go to night school to get his diploma so that he can get the job to support his lifestyle.
In all truth, I expected very little from Night School, and that’s pretty much what I got. While it’s not a hateful or utterly tedious watch, it’s a film with next to no comedic ingenuity, with barely a laugh to be seen across the entire runtime, while it struggles with dull and one-dimensional characters that do nothing to engage you in the fairly basic story at hand, ultimately making for a film that’s just not that impressive to watch.
Now, you may think I’m being a little harsh on this movie. After all, it’s just a silly comedy, and it’s only there to give you a good time, right? However, that’s exactly what it doesn’t do, and because the comedy is so poor here, it pushes the focus of the viewer onto other areas, where there is pretty much nothing to see.
But before I get into that, let’s talk about why Night School isn’t funny. It’s not the worst comedy I’ve ever seen, and its occasionally zany and energetic vibe did get a couple of smirks and grins out of me throughout, but never did I feel like laughing at any of the jokes here, with the majority of gags featuring painfully long silences where you’re meant to laugh, but where there’s actually nothing to see.
Whether it be the shallow and painfully simplistic caricatures of the night school students, who are just given a couple of random catchphrases including ‘I’m so blessed’ and ‘That’s what that’s about’ (I still don’t have a clue what the second one even means), or the constant reversion to infuriatingly braindead toilet humour that Kevin Hart is definitely above, there’s just nothing that makes this film funny in any way, therefore failing to achieve its most fundamental objective.
If you’re a fan of Kevin Hart, there is some consolation in the fact that his performance is generally lively and enjoyable. It’s hardly his best work, but Hart is at least a fairly fun central presence, made better thanks to the repartee between himself and Tiffany Haddish, who gives just as much in her role, even if the screenplay doesn’t offer her anything in particular to really stand out on screen.
However, because the screenplay just isn’t funny, the film’s many, many other problems become painfully evident. The story itself is wafer-thin, with very little done to explain the reluctance Hart’s character feels to explain his situation to his fiancée (to the point that he’s even willing to say he’s thinking of calling off his wedding), while the drive of the students in the night school class does just come down to a random bunch of dull stereotypes that, while potentially funny at first, are hammered down so hard that it becomes effectively pointless to watch.
As a result, Night School ends up as a pretty poor film all round. It’s a simple, silly comedy, but it just isn’t funny enough to have that work as an excuse for its many pitfalls. With poor humour from beginning to end, as well as a dull and irritating range of characters playing in a frustratingly basic story, there’s little to really gain out of watching this movie, ultimately ending up as a rather wasted two hours of your time, which is why I’m giving it a 5.6 overall.