Tiffany Haddish is very funny. Kevin Hart is very funny. Together, they’re pretty funny. But in Night School, as part of a forced ensemble they deliver light laughs. And even those laughs are few and far between.
The premise is simple: Teddy (Hart) was a bad student but found an adult skill that let him skate by without having a high school diploma. When that job goes up in smoke (literally), he finds he’s unemployable so he goes to night school to earn his GED. But this is where believeability ends and contrivefest 2018 begins.
The main problem with this film is that it takes too much time trying to do too much, which leads to accomplishing very little. Kevin and Tiffany have an encounter before he enrolls, but the awkwardness that could ensue is quickly dispersed.
In the first session of the class, each classmate (there are seven including the convict attending by Skype) takes a couple minutes to tell their story. Each is amusing, but we don’t really connect with any of them.
Everyone in the class is struggling to keep up due to work, family obligations, apathy, or learning disabilities. So they decide to steal the midterm. Everyone participates, including the inmate who apparently has unlimited screen time in the prison library. This scene drags on and on, with predictable antics and it just sort of ends with no tangible consequences.
This movie should have been focused on the relationships of the three primary characters: Kevin’s Teddy, Tiffany’s Carrie, and his girlfriend. There is plenty of comedy and real emotion to mine from that basic triumvirate.
But instead we’ve got the interpersonal relationships of the class. The grudge holding principal against Kevin. Kevin’s interactions with his fast food teammates. The principal’s relationship with Tiffany.
There are relationships that could have better serviced the plot, such as Kevin’s adversarial relationship with his girlfriend’s BFF or his inferiority complex with his sister and parents, or his cautious but enabling bestie from high school. But these are trotted out at odd times but otherwise ignored.
Teddy and one of his classmates have a history, but by the end of the film they are “best friends,” even though no real bonding experience occurred. The grudge holding principal only drops his grudge under threat from Carrie. And don’t get us started on Teddy giving a Valedictory speech or the adults crashing prom (#creepy).
Never has so much been so pointless.
If we gave grades, this movie would be a C-.
But we don’t give grades, we’re a cocktail site. So that leads us to..
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
In the movie, Carrie brings in a couple bottles of bubbly to celebrate the end of term. But this movie isn’t worthy of popping anything.
We’re hitting up the corner convenience store for a bottle of Boones Farm. It gets you in the high school frame of mind, and the hangover is exactly what you deserve if you go see this film.