When it comes to adult comedies, they need to embrace their maturity and not just be crude, but intelligent too. A message that the writers of Night School didn’t quite get as instead what they delivered is a kids film, with all of its typical school stereotypes and silly humour, but replaced the kids with adults who behave pretty much the same way. Sure, it will have you laughing on occasion, but mostly leave you cringing at how awkward and immature some of the humour is as well. I guess when you’re a popular movie star, growing up is optional.
At the same point in time though, I can’t say Night School disappointed me, because I also got exactly what I expected. Not only did the movies trailers pretty much tell you that its laughs would come from gross exaggeration, stereotyping and toilet humour, but it’s pretty much what you expect from Kevin Hart, whose trademark and over-the-top humour is all over this movie. Not surprising considering he is a co-writer and co-producer of this film.
This time round, we see Hart play the role of Teddy Walker, a loud, arrogant and foolish (i.e. – pretty much every Hart role) barbeque salesman who likes to live above his means to impress his girlfriend Lisa (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and fuel his life off debt rather show people the truth that he actually isn’t that successful. After a series of bizarre and ridiculous circumstances, Teddy finds himself out of a job and needing to apply for work for the first time since high school. Except only, Teddy is a high school drop-out with no hope of landing a decent job anymore unless he completes his high school education. This leads him to eventually join a night school taught by Carrie (Tiffany Haddish) with a group of fellow no-hopers (Rob Riggle, Romany Malco, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Ben Schwartz, Anne Winters and Al Madrigal). Can he overcome his severe learning disabilities, survive the school’s principal (Taran Killam) and keep up the pretence of still working in a decent job for his now fiancée?
Well, you know the answer is no and you also know that the cartoonish Hart is going to go through every extreme to not confront his learning challenges and rather attempt to lie his way through it all. It’s completely predictable and you can see where the story is headed from a mile away. The plot though is not the worst part of the movie, but rather its weak characters. The stereotypes played out by the different adult classmates are not just frustratingly overused from other movies, but perhaps behave even dumber here than what you would expect from a classroom of 5 years old. Yes, it might cause you to laugh out of absurdity at first, but overall it’s a little too over the top and unrealistic to stay funny.
It’s also a movie that will probably offend sensitive people with its blatantly offensive humour and stereotypes, especially the poor handling of valid learning disabilities that affect Hart’s character and yet are shown as freakishly cartoonish by director Malcolm D. Lee. Now, it may be a comedy and should be providing laughs over drama, but having some ounce of sensitivity to the subject would’ve actually helped this movie rise above its childish jokes. Instead, it felt like it was trying to compete with an Adam Sandler movie with its immaturity.
Your love for Night School will probably depend on how much you have enjoyed previous Hart films. The humour and character is pretty much what you expect and if you’ve found his other films funny, you will probably enjoy this. If you, like me, find him a little much, you will probably be put off by a lot of the antics on display here. To its credit, the film does have a couple of unexpected big laughs which are definitely memorable, but the majority of your laughs will probably come from not knowing how else to respond to the characters behaviours than anything genuinely funny.
Night School is a clear example of what you see is what you get. It offers up exactly what the trailer promises, but little else. It’s by the formula filmmaking. The problem is that if you don’t like the formula, then nothing is going to change. Much like an Adam Sandler movie, there is little middle-ground here and you’re either going to enjoy this or you’re not. I didn’t, but I know there is a huge following for this kind of humour that will probably eat this up.
Last Updated: September 28, 2018