Fist Fight

Movie review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Fist Fight Movie Poster Image
Terrible messages about masculinity ruin comedy's jokes.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 11 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Constant iffy behavior and several iffy messages, particularly around the idea of masculinity; the movie seems to regard getting in the fight as a mark of maturity and courage. Authority figures are thoughtless and don't care about the students they're responsible for.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Viewers are meant to find Andy Campbell relatable (if a bit of a scaredy-cat) and Ron Strickland noble (if brutal). But with their selfish and sometimes dangerous focus on their own problems, rather than on teaching, both are terrible role models for adults or young people. A teacher flirts with and ultimately seduces a (graduating) student; another buys drugs from a student and plans to plant them on his rival. Seemingly every character in the movie urges a reluctant fight participant to "man up" and not to be a "little b---h" or a "p----y" and fight. A young girl "triumphs" over a bully but does it by singing an expletive-laden song. 

Violence

Violence, while played for laughs, is surprisingly brutal. A teacher throws objects around his classroom and destroys a student's desk with an axe. He also threatens another man many times. The "fist fight" of the title is long and merciless: Characters throw each other into metal and glass (breaking a windshield), one character hits another in the head with a fire extinguisher, and both are knocked unconscious, one multiple times. Despite all this, no one is seriously injured (even though the head-knocks look like they could cause brain damage). In a brief scene, torture is implied, and a (fantasy) character is shot in the head with blood but no gore. Bullying.

Sex

Brief glimpse of footage from a porn movie shows two women pressing their naked breasts together. A guidance counselor jokes frequently about finding the teen students at her school attractive; she leers at the teens and calls them "fine" (at the end of the movie, it's implied that a graduating student returns her affections and that it's OK for them to get together because he's "not a student anymore"). Running joke about a student masturbating in a bathroom stall; no private parts are visible. A sign (promoting vegetarianism?) tells students to "Eat p---y, not meat."

Language

Very frequent swearing, including "s--t," "f--k," "ass," "hell," "damn," "bulls--t," "motherf---ker," "d--k," "boner," "balls," "a--hole," "son of a b---h," "goddamn." A man is called a "b--h" and a "p----y" many times when characters are goading him into a fight, implying he's not masculine. A sign instructs students to "Eat p---y, not meat."

Consumerism

Characters visit an Apple store twice and talk about wanting a Mac and an iPhone; the features of the laptop are discussed excitedly by characters. Apple logos are visible on every cell phone. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A teacher jokes about buying and using meth. Students feed a horse meth to get it to run through school halls. A plot point revolves around a teacher planting drugs ("Molly") on another to get him arrested. Students and teachers alike smoke marijuana at school. A teacher's drug habit is played for laughs. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fist Fight is a raunchy comedy about two teachers (Charlie Day and Ice Cube) who agree to have a fight on the last day of school. Although it's played for laughs, the movie's violence is surprisingly intense: During the big fight, both teachers are knocked unconscious (one with a fire extinguisher), crashing into and break a car's windshield, and get other terrible-looking injuries. But they both walk away seemingly mostly uninjured. In the "very iffy messages" department, several characters tell a man who's reluctant to fight that he should "man up" and not be a "little b---h" or a "p---y"; once he's been in the fight, everyone seems to regard him as courageous and more mature. There's plenty of other strong language, including "s--t," "f--k," "ass," "hell," "damn," "bulls--t," and "motherf---ker." A guidance counselor leers at male students and calls them "fine"; she ultimately hooks up with a graduating student, and the movie implies it's OK for them to get together because he's "not a student anymore." In a running joke, a student masturbates in the bathroom; nothing sensitive is visible, but he talks graphically about "finishing." A quick shot from a porn movie shows naked breasts. Both students and teachers smoke pot at school; a teacher also buys drugs from a student and plants them on another teacher, and a teacher jokes about buying and using meth. Apple products are featured very prominently.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKim J. February 19, 2017

Terrible Depiction of anything American

This was a TERRIBLE movie...I am ashamed that Hollywood thought this was acceptable for anyone to see. I know it is supposed to be funny, but it is vile and off... Continue reading
Adult Written bycharlotte d. February 17, 2017

fist fight

Very slow until the end . Keep waiting until the good part but it never came . Doesn't make you laugh much at all . I thought it was boring . Lots of four... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bysierrasmist February 20, 2017

very entertaining, but not aimed at adults!

every adult I've seen talk about the film has criticised the humour. personally i found it insanely funny. dick jokes sell! just not to old people. i say... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byarianagrande June 24, 2017

What's the story?

Roosevelt High is always a tough school -- but on Senior Prank Day, which also happens to be the last day of school, it's even tougher than usual. Even worse, this year, Principal Tyler (Dean Norris) is looking to slash the school's staff just before summer starts. Nice-guy English teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) is holding up under the stress -- despite the added wrinkle that his wife is just about to have their second baby -- until he walks into Ron Strickland's (Ice Cube) classroom. Campbell only means to help the history teacher with the AV system. But what happens next launches Strickland and Campbell into a rivalry that's destined to end in a FIST FIGHT. Can Andy save his job, take care of his family, and somehow avoid being killed by a furious fellow teacher? One day could make the difference. 

Is it any good?

"Teachers behaving badly" is a classic comedy premise that often works, but this movie's toxic take on masculinity and logical plot holes ruin the funny. It could have been amusing to have one unhinged teacher threatening another with mild violence. And Ice Cube and Day (whom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fans know as Charlie Kelly) are charming enough to have carried it off. But Fist Fight goes way, way, waaaaay over the top. Strickland, who early on in the movie destroys a student's wooden desk with an axe before threatening Campbell with it, is a terrifying potential rival who promises that the fight won't end until someone is unconscious. Plus, everyone in the movie seems to view Strickland's challenge to Campbell as some sort of lighthearted test of Campbell's masculinity. He's urged no fewer than six times to "man up" or to not be a "little b---h" or a "p---y" and go ahead and fight the guy (who's twice his size), already. 

So there's that sour note, plus an assorted dozen doughnuts of other problems, too. As if a vicious fight wasn't high enough stakes, the confrontation is scheduled to take place at the same time that Campbell's supposed to be doing a school talent show act with his young daughter (on the last day of school? Really?). Spoiler alert: He doesn't make it. Then he does, and the daughter foils her mean-girl bully by performing an expletive-laden song. Wow, the F-word. That'll really make those bullies pay. Then there are non-funny jokes about the school guidance counselor (Jillian Bell), apparently a meth connoisseur who has the hots for the senior boys ... yikes. If only this absurd comedy had a core of sweetness instead of a desire to shock. A few of the jokes do land. But if you have a heart, the meanness makes it harder to laugh.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Fist Fight portrays violence and drug use. Is either glamorized? Why does that matter?

  • What do you think about the idea that being willing to get in a fight makes a man "more" of a man? Is this a message you've seen or heard elsewhere? How is that potentially harmful?

  • Movies tend to exaggerate real life for comic effect. Does going so far over the top make First Fight funnier? Would a more realistic school be as funny?

  • How does the movie portray bullying? What are some real-life strategies to deal with bullies?

Movie details

For kids who love comedy

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