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Published On: Fri, Sep 28th, 2018

‘Night School’ flunks Kevin Hart’s humor in a film better suited for a ‘date night’ at home

Have you ever felt badly about not totally loving a movie?  Night School (opening today – September 28, 2018) is a good example of that for me.  And the worst thing about it is that I really had to think long and hard to figure out why I wasn’t over the moon with this one.  Then I got it…..it’s just too long with too many chunks of time that aren’t hilarious (especially for a Kevin Hart film).

I believe that most Kevin Hart fans would say that his films roll from one (sometimes raunchy) laugh to another with very few down times in between.  Frequently, the laughs come so closely together that you miss some of the jokes because you can’t hear the dialogue over the audience’s laughter. But that’s not the case with Night School.  While very entertaining, Hart has set his comedic bar so high that this production falls just shy of it.  Additionally, there’s no special chemistry between Hart and his co-stars. I would have given anything for Ice Cube to make an appearance with the spark they shared in their Ride Along movies.  While I can’t fault anyone’s performance, there was still no spark….no chemistry…. nothing to help carry the jokes between the characters.

Hart plays Teddy Walker, a high school drop-out who is so focused on projecting a successful image that he puts himself in tough situations assuming he can charm anyone into giving him what he wants.  While his charm helps him reach a great level of success in his sales position, things turn south for Teddy when he accidentally blows up the company which was slated to be his upon the boss’s retirement.  After hitting rock bottom, his only other viable option for successful employment forces him to accept the need for a GED which leads him to night school.

The classroom setting brings to light his various learning disabilities which led him to drop out as a teenager, puts him into a mix of misfits with whom he never thought he’d associate, and brings a high school nemesis back into his life.  Add in a fiancé that has no clue any of this is happening and you’ve brought in the normal Hart-characteristic of the comedic liar who can talk circles around others.

As expected, Teddy learns to deal with his learning disabilities, becomes friends with his classmates, makes amends with his long-lost nemesis, and gets to keep the girl in the end.  Sounds very much like Hart’s typical formula except for the long drags between funny bits. But maybe all his films start out this way and rely on great editing to make them as popular as they normally are.  

This film’s 111 minute runtime probably could and should have been cut back to 90 minutes unless they wanted to replace some of that screen time with more of his customary unique dialogue.

All that said, it’s still worth seeing….but maybe when it comes out on demand and you can pause the movie as desired.   It’s a light-hearted film with a positive message and a number of dirty jokes sprinkled in there for a bit more of the usual Hart flavor that mature audiences expect.  It’s okay for a date night, but better for a “snuggle-up on the couch” type of date rather than incurring the cost of a night out on the town.

Night School earns 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Author: Debbie Sage

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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