REVIEW: Night School

They could probably teach you how to make a better movie at night school.

When his livelihood suddenly goes up in flames, the recently engaged high school dropout, Teddy Walker, attends night school to secure his GED for a financially comfortable future with his bride to be.

From Malcolm D. Lee, director of Girls TripNight School is 2018’s new Kevin Hart comedy which means there will be a lot of screaming, a lot of short jokes and a lot of over-exaggeration of literally everything… or does it mean that. Night School may not be the best of movies but is a surprisingly enjoyable, easy going watch that could have been so much better, if it were not for a few potholes along its winding road.

Credited with six screenwriters, which is usually the kiss of death for a comedy, Night School may fail in its humour, but it succeeds in heart. Whereas most crude adult comedies revel in a mean-spirited attitude with constant sexual innuendos and just poor taste in offensive antics, Night School adopts a more uplifting and sweetly satisfying tale which invites genuinely fullfing moments of emotion to bubble to the surface. Night School makes light of the struggles behind real learning disabilities and the embarrassment or fear one may have in admitting they suffer from said disabilities.

Along with his performance in Central Intelligence, Kevin Hart’s stint in Night School, I would have to say, is up there as one of his better performances. The dude is not all “yelly yelly” and “shorty shorty”, he’s just a guy, down on his luck and trying to better himself. I may not be a huge fan of Hart’s brand of comedy, but I have to admit that I was really impressed with Hart in this film, especially when he played side-by-side with Tiffany Haddish.

Now if you’re expecting a lot of Haddish in this movie, you’re not going to get it. The actresses is honestly not in Night School a whole lot, almost like she was so busy in her personal life or working on other projects that she could only shoot a few sequences in a matter of days. Yet, Haddish is still one of the best parts in this film. She may not be overly funny, but she does play a great counterpart to Hart and the two explore some excellent chemistry between one another, that honestly moved me at some points.

As cheesy and as dumb as the ending got, the themes that Night School did cover were well-realised. The whole idea that failing is an inescapable part of life, but the passion and resilience to try over and over again until success is found managed to work as a strong part of Night School. Building Hart and Haddish in a mentor/ mentee relationship worked quite well between the two actors and, I can’t believe I am saying this but, Night School actually surprised me from an emotional standpoint.

With all that said though, Night School is first and foremost a comedy and should be judged as a comedy accordingly, and on that level, Night School is quite the fail. Usually comedies do not have an excessive runtime (and if they do, the comedy should be humorous enough to warrant two hours of attention); yet, Night School moves at such a slow pace with a lengthy two hours on the dot, the flick is just not worth the effort of sitting through.

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(Woo 2018)

Sequences are just drawn out for such an aggressively dull amount of time that all the humour is drained out of scenes as characters and scenarios no longer appear funny but just lifeless. For example, the first night school session which plays as introduction to all the characters feels like it goes for at least 20 minutes where each character dumps five minutes worth of information about themselves and then proceeds with a joke that just isn’t funny because it is repeated rapidly over the course of the next 20 minutes. Night School, in summary, does not know how to pace itself well and as a result fails in making its comedy really work.

The movie is also shot with no character; everything is just too clean and shiny. Despite not knowing what the production was like behind the scenes of this movie, I am 100% sure there were inclusions of green screen inserted into most scenes. The editing was ultimately jarring and poorly done. The production for this movie in general just felt lazy and almost artificial like everything was done to make a profit.

Like I said, there were elements of Night School I did like, but I still cannot recommend it since as the comedy it is meant to be, the movie just does not work. It has some good intentions and never goes out of its way to do anything offensively bad, but the main problem is, Night School plays it so incredibly safe, the movie just cannot remain a memorable or overly fulfilling experience in the long run.

If you like Kevin Hart and a bit of Tiffany Haddish, you may find some enjoyment from this little comedy flick, but at the end of the day, like what you like – I’m just the guy who runs a film blog.

Night School sadly belongs in the… KINGDOM OF THE CRIMINALLY DULL…

 

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