REVIEW: ‘Night School’ fails the laugh test

I like Kevin Hart, I think he’s a pretty funny dude. In fact, I like most of the cast featured in this flick. However, I can’t say I actually liked the movie.

In his latest comedy feature, Hart stars as Teddy, a high school dropout who’s always struggled with tests. Despite this, Teddy is still able to claw his way into a fairly good life, becoming a hardworking retail salesman who’s in line to become the general manager of the store he’s at. Additionally, he’s in a good relationship with his girlfriend.

However, through a series of events where Teddy tries to propose to his girlfriend, he ends up losing his job and needs to find new employment. Without a high school diploma, though, it isn’t easy. The end result is Teddy returning to school to get his GED. The task is tough, though, because of a strict teacher named Carrie (Tiffany Haddish) and a principal with a vendetta against Teddy, Stewart (Taran Killam).

“Night School” is an unfortunate mixture. It’s largely empty and void, with most of the jokes missing, while at the same time being nearly two hours long. The result is a comedy picture that’s tough to make it through.

I had a sliver of hope going in that maybe this would be a bit above some of Hart’s other work. I figured that maybe this could have been a little cleverer in its take on the education system, perhaps provide some satirical commentary on the matter.

That’s not really the case here. Basically, this is like any other Hart comedy vehicle. He plays an every-man, is the butt of many jokes because of his shenanigans, and gets in trouble with his significant other for telling a lie. This is just a different scenario to tell humor that’s largely similar to other productions.

The movie goes in random directions, too, for very little rhyme or reason other than some forced attempts at comedy. For example, there’s a sequence where Teddy and his classmates break into the school to steal exam answers that just felt out of place.

Another section is the teacher Carrie trying to teach Teddy educational lessons during Mixed Martial Arts training. It’s never mentioned if this is a specific technique or anything, it’s just supposed to be funny because Hart’s character is getting knocked around.

The supporting characters don’t help much either. There was a good variety of characters making up the classmates in the night class and at first, their quirks worked pretty well. However, that’s all they really bring to the table and it wears off by the halfway point and stops being funny.

The dialogue just doesn’t have enough heavy hitting lines that provide major laughs. The site gags and physical humor is mostly forgettable as well, offering nothing more than a chuckle or two.

“Night School” certainly wasn’t a bad concept, but the writing just wasn’t there. Comedy-wise, this is a talented cast, but it wasn’t enough to make a funny movie. 1.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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