Landon’s Outlook: “Night School” fails to reach its comedic potential

Illustration by Liz McCown

Landon Roberts
Contributing Writer

When the trailer for “Night School” dropped earlier this year, it looked like Kevin Hart, paired with the hilarious Tiffany Haddish, could make for an entertaining comedy duo. This pairing might have seemed destined for greatness, but the final product presented in “Night School” was an annoying, unbearable test of how many times these actors could make the same joke in different ways.

After losing his job, Hart’s Teddy Walker — a high school dropout — is forced to attend night school, taught by Haddish’s eclectic Carrie, in order to earn his GED diploma. Meanwhile, Teddy has to balance his crumbling engagement and his challenge with learning disorders, such as dyslexia.

“Night School” portrays dyslexia surprisingly well, showing how it affects a person’s learning process while also presenting how one can overcome this disorder. While the sentiment is quite inspiring, it is the only thing the film truly succeeds at.

The rest of the supporting cast of night school attendees is made up of famous comedians, including Rob Riggle and Al Madrigal. These characters are completely dull and rely heavily on stereotypical humor that is borderline offensive and nonsensical.

Madrigal portrays Luis, a Mexican immigrant. And whether it be one-liners about “illegal immigration” or poking fun at his accent and pronunciation of certain words, the film constantly makes jokes at his expense and about immigrants as a whole.

These are not the only jokes that don’t land. The film might be a comedy, but the comical moments are so bland and unoriginal that the humor becomes predictable and boring. The runtime drags on, emphasizing how lazy and formulaic the story is.

In a nutshell, the humor in “Night School” can be described as a Haddish-Hart improv, made up of unpleasant noises and jokes emphasizing Hart’s height. With similar comedic styles, the pair’s improvised moments become a nonstop repetition of the same jokes over and over again. The repeated jokes lead to a chemistry that feels unnatural and unrealistic, which keeps the story from moving forward due to the film’s heavy reliance on the interactions between Hart and Haddish.

Slapstick riddles this film as well and it can become incredibly ridiculous — at times, it walks the line of being cartoonish. For example, a scene where Hart accidentally blows up his workplace while inside and leaves unscathed plays out like a skit from Looney Tunes. The creators could have turned these moments into solid punchlines — if they had been aware of them. Instead, they rely on Hart’s high-pitched gibberish.

Most comedies starring Kevin Hart boil down to short jokes and loud, obnoxious humor. Even with this persistent comedic style, I have found some sort of entertainment through his chemistry with other actors, such as Dwayne Johnson in “Central Intelligence” or Ice Cube in the “Ride Along” series.

“Night School” takes all of Hart’s typical joke setups and combines them with Haddish’s similar comedic style, condensing them in the dullest way possible. With the lousy chemistry, monotonous characters and humor that never lands, “Night School” is a genuine drag and not worth anyone’s time.

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