Movie Review: Night School squeaks by with a pass

Night School
Movie Review: Night School squeaks by with a pass
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Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins has been a reporter with Oakville News since 2016. Covering local news and live events, he specializes in film, theatre, and entertainment. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. Tyler is a proud graduate of Journalism and Performing Arts from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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It’s hard to say nice things about a movie that’s “not so bad.” But Universal’s new comedy Night School is equally forgettable and surprisingly fun. The film feels like a student who only studied hard for half of a final exam. Most of it is okay. And you can tell where the student truly excels.

That focus of individuality is consistent throughout the story. The major theme is recognizing people work, think, and learn differently. The trouble is, half of the scenes are more like vignettes than focused on the main plot.

Said plot is centred on salesman and dropout Teddy Walker (Kevin Hart) who accidentally loses his job the same night he gets engaged. There’s a dynamite job in finance waiting for him – except he needs his GED first.

Desperate for a new start and to keep his fiancé, Teddy enrolls in a uniquely taught (by Tiffany Haddish) night school. Initially hoping to slide by with little efforts, he realizes there are no shortcuts to success.

Photo: Universal Pictures

By far the best scenes are when the hilarious ensemble of mostly unknown comedians are set loose to banter with each other. Some of these unscripted conversations are bursting with character, authenticity and cute antics. The chemistry is outstanding, especially with Hart and Haddish’s combined energy.

The other half of the story, sadly, is an tightly scripted reminder school isn’t just about spending time with your friends. When the actors are forced to cram their studying and their dialogue, it feels awkward or unnecessarily long

Jokes are hit-and-miss in the pre-fabricated scenarios and clichés that come intermittently. But the zingers and improvised character scenes truly allow the cast to shine. Romany Malco, playing Teddy’s fellow classmate Jaylen, is a standout of his own accord. His quick fire catchphrases and lanky physicality are hilarious.

Aside from the surname of the movie’s star, heart is the obvious focus. The actors are showing honesty and consistency in every moment. That makes their characters and the film’s premise extremely likeable…even with a scattershot screenplay.

It’s frustrating wanting to enjoy an easygoing comedy like this knowing the product is lazily made. It is sharper and funnier than other Kevin Hart films such as Ride Along. Several attendees nearby from my screening say it best: “It feels really good because I had such low expectations.”

There’s something powerful about the possibilities when you underestimate a student and they shine. That’s just the case here with Night School. The test scores still aren’t great. But these students are still really fun to be around.

Night School
2 out of 4 stars

PG, 1hrs 52mins. Comedy.
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee.
Starring Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Taran Killam, Romany Malco, Ben Schwartz and Megalyn Echikunwoke.
Now Playing at Cineplex Winston Churchill and Cineplex Oakville & VIP.


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