Movies

Movie review: ‘Night School’

Kevin Hart is funny, but not that funny

Review by Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 9/28/18

Kevin Hart's new movie might seem as though it cribbed a few notes from "The Breakfast Club (1985)," seeing as how it deals with a group of misfits stuck in a classroom lorded over by a cranky school teacher.

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Movies

Movie review: ‘Night School’

Kevin Hart is funny, but not that funny

Posted

Kevin Hart's new movie might seem as though it cribbed a few notes from "The Breakfast Club (1985)," seeing as how it deals with a group of misfits stuck in a classroom lorded over by a cranky school teacher.

But, that's about as far as the similarities go.

Instead, Malcolm D. Lee’s film pits the diminutive funnyman against the world in a series of outlandish situations that might play better as a TV sitcom that is at least broken up by commercials to give the audience a break from the let's-throw-anything-against-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks brand of screenwriting.

Incidentally, “Night School’s” script credits six writers, including Hart himself.

Audiences looking to mine the movie for any sort of deeper meaning might do well to consider its commentary on the concept of modern urban success, i.e. the socio-economic expectation to get on the corporate ladder to attain the acquisition of material objects and subsequent emotional satisfaction due to measuring up to a particular romantic ideal.

Or, it's just a bunch of jokes.

Hart can be very funny as his highly successful career as a stand-up comedian attests, but unless he's part of a stellar ensemble cast, with whom he can interact, he is left to hold his own by sticking to a tired set of schticks that sometimes work and sometimes don't.

In this movie, there is an ensemble, but the actors all work in service to Hart’s comedy style.

The premise to get his character, Teddy Walker, into the classroom is a little convoluted and more than a tad forced. In a flashback, we see Teddy in high school about to take an SAT and flubs it, stomping indignantly out of the gym declaring he will become a success no matter what.

Now, in the present, we see Teddy driving a beautiful new Porsche, next to his beautiful girlfriend Lisa (Megan Echikunwoke), and after he drops her off at her job as a professional interior designer, he heads off to his job as the top salesman at a Weber barbecue outlet.

He is the picture of success, and if all those kids in high school who scoffed at him then could see him now, he’d thumb his nose in absolute glee.

Then, predictably, things start falling apart. The job is gone, the car gets repo-ed and, the girlfriend might disappear too if he tells her what’s really happening with his finances.

Now, his only chance at redemption is to get a new job — but, to get it, he will need at the very least, a high school general education development (GED) diploma. Because he dropped out, Teddy now needs to take a night school class to attain one.

In typical sitcom style, the principal of the school where he has to take the class is the nerd (Taran Killam) he dissed back in the day. So, this obviously is not going to be easy, especially since Teddy also had a previous road rage-tinged altercation with a woman who turns out to be his teacher, Carrie (Tiffany Haddish).

Things don’t get easier when Teddy gets into class with fellow students played by Rob Riggle, Romany Malco, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Anne Winters and Al Madrigal.

What follows is a rocky road filled with silly jokes, slapstick situations and more than enough opportunities for the audience to laugh at Hart’s self-deprecating humor. He’s likeable, you have to give him that, but there are times in this movie when those five other writers could have come up with something better than this.

Tempo grade: C+

“Night School” is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language, some drug references and violence.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

Smallfoot

MPAA rating: PG for some action, rude humor, and thematic elements.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres

Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum) is a friendly Yeti whose world gets turned upside down when he discovers something that he didn't know existed: a human. He soon faces banishment from his snowy home when the rest of the villagers refuse to believe his fantastic tale.

Hoping to prove them wrong, Migo embarks on an epic journey to find the mysterious creature that can put him back in good graces with his simple community.

Directed by Karey Kirkpatrick and Jason Reisig, this computer animated comedy features the voice talents of James Corden, Common, Zendaya, LeBron James,Danny DeVito, and Gina Rodriguez.

This film is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For showtimes, tickets and additional information, call (751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Sorry to Bother You

MPAA rating: R for pervasive language, some strong sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use.

Taos Community Auditorium

In an alternate version of Oakland, Cassius Green (Lakeeith Stanfield) gets a telemarketing job and finds the commission-only job a dispiriting struggle as a black man selling to predominately white people over the phone.

That changes when a veteran (Danny Glover) advises him to use his "white voice," and the attitude behind it to make himself more appealing to customers. With a bizarrely high-pitched accent, Cassius becomes a success even as his colleagues form a union to improve their miserable jobs.

Regardless, Cassius finds himself promoted as a "Power Caller" selling the most morally abhorrent but lucrative products and services as his connection to his girlfriend and colleagues fades away. However, Cassius' conscience arises anew as he finds himself in the midst of his boss' bizarre world of condescending bigoted decadence and his sinister plans to create the perfect subservient workforce with Cassius' help.

First-time feature by rapper Boots Riley, this satire co-stars Forest Whitaker, Armie Hammer, Tessa Thompson and Steven Yuen.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 30) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Oct. 1-3) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

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