Night School

 

star

 


Kevin Hart is the life of the party when he heads back to school in this overworked and mechanical sitcom crafted by six different writers.

 
Night School

A dyslexic and dyscalculic dystopia: Anne Winters and Kevin Hart

  

Due to the commercial success of such titles as Ride Along, Ride Along 2, Central Intelligence and Get Hard, Kevin Hart would appear to be critic-proof. But even by Kevin Hart standards, this is poor. It’s not just that Night School is predictable, hammy and mawkish, it just isn’t funny. And the reason it isn’t funny is that the rough approximation of human beings in the film are so cartoonish that there’s no level of recognition. The plot is mechanical, the music manipulative and even the subject matter overly familiar. Only four months ago Melissa McCarthy went back to school in Life of the Party, succeeding such overgrown schoolboys as Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School and Adam Sandler in Billy Madison. At least when Robin Williams found himself behind a school desk in Francis Ford Coppola's Jack, he was playing a fifth grader trapped in the body of a 40-year-old.

 

Here, Kevin Hart plays Teddy Walker, a barbecue salesman who can’t spell his own name. When he decides to apply for a job in financial investment – to impress his fiancée Lisa (Megalyn Echikunwoke), who is several notches above his pay scale – he is told that he has to earn his GED, or General Educational Development test. And so, behind his fiancée’s back, he enrols in night school at his old alma mater, and joins a classroom of fellow adult morons. They’re a mixed bunch (obviously), and poor Big Mac (Rob Riggle) hasn’t even heard of McDonald’s. Who would’ve thought? Teddy himself is a pathological liar, a braggart and an all-round berk, who discovers that he’s not only dyslexic and dyscalculic but suffers from “mind chatter,” or, as he sees it, he has “learning herpes.” Even more problematic, though, is that his tutor (Tiffany Haddish) is not taken in by his street smarts. She will not tolerate cheating…

 

Like many films directed by Malcolm D. Lee, the film is busting all over with sitcom cliché, gurning reaction shots and pathetic caricatures (like Mary Lynn Rajskub's loser, who mistakenly believes that men are only interested in her arse). The film is really a tragedy. At its best, comedy should be cathartic – it most certainly shouldn’t act as a depressant.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Rob Riggle, Romany Malco, Taran Killam, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Keith David, Anne Winters, Al Madrigal, Ben Schwartz, Fat Joe, Yvonne Orji, Donna Biscoe, Bresha Webb.

 

Dir Malcolm D. Lee, Pro Will Packer and Kevin Hart, Screenplay Kevin Hart, Harry Ratchford, Joey Wells, Matt Kellard, Nicholas Stoller and John Hamburg, Ph Greg Gardiner, Pro Des Keith Brian Burns, Ed Paul Millspaugh, Music David Newman, Costumes Sekinah Brown.

 

HartBeat Productions/Will Packer Productions-Universal Pictures

111 mins. USA. 2018. Rel: 28 September 2018. Cert. 12A.