Night School Review

  • 12A
  • 1hr 51min
  • Comedy
  • Sept 2018
  • Malcolm D. Lee

High school dropout Teddy Walker (Kevin Hart) returns to the classroom as he aims to acquire his General Equivalency Diploma (GED). With a lucrative job at stake Teddy, with the help of his classmates, will need to learn as much information as possible from fiery night school teacher Carrie (Tiffany Haddish) if he is to finally pass and achieve his goal.

In search of his next success following last year’s $140 million worldwide grossing ‘Girls Trip’, director Malcolm D. Lee has put his trust in one of the film’s break-out stars, Tiffany Haddish, to play a leading role in the new comedy film, Night School. Together with the electrifying Kevin Hart and an ensemble of notable comedic actors, the film has a lot of the base ingredients for a triumphant comedy.

Credit:  Universal Pictures

Credit: Universal Pictures

The best scenes, as you would expect, involve Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish with the pair’s chemistry resulting in some of the film’s most enjoyable comedy moments. Kevin Hart continues to peddle his trademark ‘squeal’ and embrace a self-deprecating humour with numerous quips regarding his short stature. The introduction to Teddy’s outlandish classmates, drawn from an eclectic mix of backgrounds, creates an entertaining vibe - similar to that of ‘The Breakfast Club’ – however early promise gives way to inefficient improvisation and over-reliance on tired wearisome jokes.

What appears on the surface to have been a canvas that the cast could make their own develops into an incoherent storyline that yearns for direction and clarity. This is clearly not helped by the presence of six!! writers, including Kevin Hart himself, with the resulting and unavoidable conflict of styles doing nothing more than create confusion.

It’s unwritten cinematic law that a well-choreographed score should work in-tandem with the in-vision action to help drive the pace of the movie. Again, the movie falls down here with the two elements not quite working in sync and the soundtrack used more to emphasise moments of elation and despair (just in case the audience fails to respond to them!)

The length of the film only goes to expose the film’s flaws further with the final ten minutes serving very little purpose other than to prolong the audience’s indifference. Indeed, shaving the movie down to a more manageable ninety minutes may well have resulted in a slicker delivery of comedy moments as opposed to the failed pursuit of a gag that has gone flat.

Possibly the movie’s only saving grace is they way it weaves the important subject of learning difficulties into the narrative.Whilst far from perfect, Haddish’s acting abilities help deliver a good balance of assertiveness and sympathy.

Credit:  Universal Pictures

Credit: Universal Pictures

To conclude, Night School has the occasional belly-laugh line as well as something approaching a meaningful subtext. But in terms of being a memorable comedy it falls someway short. The cast’s efforts are admirable, and with better direction and fewer writers one can’t help but feel how Night School could have ‘over-achieved’ as opposed to ‘didn’t make the grade and could try a lot harder’.

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