Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Rob Riggle
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Kevin Hart has officially struck rock bottom…
A side effect of the ubiquity of Judd Apatow’s brand of comedy, seeing grown-ups actually being pushed into mentally and emotionally growing up is something of a modern cliché. Sometimes, it can lead to moments of real, mature introspection and character study (Bad Neighbours, Sisters, Tag), but too often, it ends up being used as an excuse to just see people act like brats. That is not a real problem if said bratty behaviour is leading to something, but some films don’t get that far. Unfortunately, this is one of them.
Much like in a real classroom, the teacher is the only thing holding this together. Haddish struck gold last year with director Malcolm D. Lee’s Girls Trip, and while it’s good to see that her immediately-striking personality carries through here, she’s the only person in Night School’s ensemble with an actual character to speak of, whilst Kevin Hart continues milking a Napoleon complex for jokes.
Looking at the overly-crowded writers’ room for this, we have Hart himself, three writers whose biggest claim to fame is working on Hart’s stand-up and award show appearances, genuinely talented writer/director Nicholas Stoller (Bad Neighbours, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), and John Hamburg, who gave us the yuletide rectal examination that is Why Him? The blame has to sit somewhere; it’s baffling that there was no room to actual work out a plot between the six of them.
Take any scene from this film – from Hart’s stint as not-quite-MC-Hammer working for a fried chicken restaurant to the faux-heist to steal a test paper – and removing it whole-cloth from the plot changes literally nothing. If anything, it might help this nearly-two-hour film feel like less of a colossal drag.
It’s a do-nothing film where the most urgent things it has to say are “be yourself” and “stay in school”, the kind of revolutionary, mind-exploding ideas some might remember from old Captain Planet re-runs. Kevin Hart has officially struck rock bottom with this one, giving us a film about school that makes sitting through stress-inducing finals exams seem like the more pleasant and entertaining option.