Star Kevin Hart and producer Will Packer, who partnered for the hit Ride Along and Think Like a Man series, bring their signature style to Night School. The comedy from director Malcolm D. Lee (Girls Trip) follows a group of misfits who are forced to attend adult classes in the longshot chance they’ll pass the GED exam.
What We Thought:
I would have liked Night School more if it focused on the ensemble cast and not just the leads. I thought the supporting cast were a lot funnier than the main characters. When the film is about the class and classmates, it’s really quite funny, but unfortunately the movie is more about Kevin Hart’s character Teddy and that’s a shame.
Teddy never graduated high school and after his sales job selling barbecue equipment goes up in flames, he has to go to night school to get his GED to work for his friend. His fiance doesn’t know he’s a dropout and he keeps his night school activities a secret. The principal of the school (Taran Killam) is a nemesis from his high school days who doesn’t want him at his school. But Tiffany Haddish’s teacher character feels bad for him and allows him in her class. That class is mix of misfits ranging from a married mom who wants to escape her family, a dad going back to school because he made a bet with his son, a waiter from Mexico who wants to be a dental hygienist, a prisoner Skyping from jail and so on.
When the movie is in that classroom setting, Rob Riggle, Fat Joe, Romany Malco, Al Madrigal, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Anne Winters all get big laughs. The film is more The Breakfast Club at that point than it is a Kevin Hart film. I like Hart’s stand up, but I’m not the biggest fan of his movies. I liked Central Intelligence and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle but those films didn’t have Hart as the go to in every scene. Most of his films find him doing a schtick instead of just being funny.
Even Tiffany Haddish isn’t all that important to the film. The posters and trailers make it look like a Hart/Haddish vehicle, but it’s really not. The breakout star of the past year seems underused here and not necessary to the role. As the teacher, she has some decent scenes, but ultimately anyone else could have done the same.
But I did find myself laughing at some of the movie. Malco, Rajskub, and Riggle got the biggest laughs and Killam got laughs as well. I really wish it was more about the overall class than just Hart because the classroom was really funny. Seeing Fat Joe Skyping from prison, Malco not trusting robots, Rajskub never wanting to be with her family, it all worked for me. But then it would go back to Hart trying to hide his life from his fiance and him having a hard time learning.
Kevin Hart seems to be the male Melissa McCarthy to me. I like both of them, but I’m not a huge fan of their movies. Just like McCarthy’s Life of the Party, Hart’s Night School has great supporting characters, but ultimately is the latest comedy you watch once and never really need to see again. Oh well.