"Hit and Miss Comedy with a Heart"
What You Need To Know:
NIGHT SCHOOL is a bit hit and miss with its comedy, but it has a moral, pro-capitalist worldview stressing hard work, honesty, education, and second chances. So, it’s uplifting and funny enough to make it an enjoyable experience for most moviegoers. However, it’s marred by lots of foul language, other lewd content, and some irreverent comedy surrounding a Christian chicken restaurant patterned after Chick-fil-A. There are positive references, though, to faith and prayer. MOVIEGDUIDE® advises extreme caution for NIGHT SCHOOL.
NIGHT SCHOOL is the story of a high school dropout, who suddenly needs to get a GED diploma 20 years later, and the comically bizarre night school teacher and classmates he confronts along the way. NIGHT SCHOOL has a moral, pro-capitalist worldview promoting hard work, education, second chances, and acknowledgements of Christian prayer, but it’s marred by some foul language, sexual innuendoes and irreverent portrayals of a Christian chicken restaurant patterned after Chick-fil-A.
NIGHT SCHOOL stars Kevin Hart as Teddy Walker, a fast-talking hustler who works successfully as a salesman for a store called BBQ City, selling backyard grills while cruising around Atlanta in a fancy car with a beautiful girlfriend. Teddy’s living way beyond his means and hides the fact that he’s a high school dropout from his girlfriend. When he accidentally explodes the store while proposing to her after hours, a friend offers Teddy a job selling investments, but on one condition: that he finish his GED.
Teddy had always hated school, unaware that he suffered from a combination of learning disabilities that made it nearly impossible for him to learn anything. He warily walks into a night school GED class taught by a sassy woman named Carrie (Tiffany Haddish) and surrounded by an assortment of well-cast weirdos, with unique issues of their own. Teddy’s surprised to discover a real chance to better his life.
Along the way, he’s got two other unexpected challenges: the embarrassment of working as a sign-spinner while dressed in a chicken suit for a ridiculous restaurant called Christian Chicken that’s an over-the-top spoof of Chick-Fil-A, and the fact that his old high-school nemesis, Stewart (Taram Killam), is now his principal.
NIGHT SCHOOL should be a hugely funny movie due to its two leads, who are among the hottest comics in the world right now. Its supporting cast is also filled with an impressive number of veteran comic talents who give it their all. It should also be noted that Director Malcolm D. Lee has had a string of comedy hits with GIRLS TRIP, THE BEST MAN and BEST MAN HOLIDAY.
Yet, NIGHT SCHOOL is very hit-or-miss with its humor. NIGHT SCHOOL has six writers, a ridiculously high number that leads this occasionally funny movie into being a jumbled mess with abrupt tonal shifts. It also features one of the most embarrassing movie scores to be heard in years. Somehow, though, its underlying goofy energy and positive message about the importance of education and second chances should leave most moviegoers feeling entertained, as long as they’re not expecting high art.
However, NIGHT SCHOOL isn’t appropriate for children or young teenagers. That’s mostly due to a schizophrenic tendency to veer between some crass sexual humor and an admirable amount of positive messages of hard work, the importance of education and the idea that it’s never too late to improve one’s life. There are also touching moments of reconciliation between Teddy, his estranged girlfriend and his father, who has always mocked him.
Teddy’s job at a restaurant called Christian Chicken has him wearing a chicken suit while holding a sign out front that says its food is “heavenly,” and yelling “Honk once if you love chicken, honk twice if you love the Lord!” There’s also a scene where he tries to break free from taking part in an employee prayer circle. This scenes and the restaurant’s overly happy Christian boss sometimes appear to be mocking Christians. Also, the repressed housewife in Teddy’s class keeps describing her hard and disappointing life and then snapping out of her depression robotically and saying “we’re blessed!” The movie contrasts this irreverent humor with three key serious moments in the movie, where Teddy and two other characters are shown making a sincere Sign of the Cross and looking up to Heaven.
NIGHT SCHOOL is funny enough to make it enjoyable for most moviegoers. Also, its pro-capitalist, morally uplifting messages leave viewers with a positive feeling, despite the movie’s crude humor and excessive foul language.