Kevin Hart is known to sell out stadiums and team up with comedic actors, such as Will Ferrell, Dwayne Johnson and most recently, Tiffany Haddish. As a movie fanatic, it is hard to let me down when it comes to comedy. Yet “Night School,” Kevin Hart’s latest project to hit the big screen, was not necessarily a letdown, but laughs were far and few in between.
The “Night School” trailer made the movie seem like it would be more of a modern and realistic take on “Billy Madison,” the 1995 film where an adult Adam Sandler has to go back to school. However, it was clear that the movie was trying to convey a deeper meaning with an original take behind Kevin Hart’s character, Teddy Walker.
Teddy is a high school dropout who grew up to become a top barbecue salesman with financial instability. Teddy pretends to be rich in order to impress his girlfriend-turned-fiance, Lisa. Hart’s character hints that Lisa is high-maintenance and that he needs to wow her with money and lavish things.
Teddy secretly attends night school in order to get his GED so he can take on a new position after literally blowing his last job. His class is taught by Carrie, played by Tiffany Haddish, who completely stole the show. Throughout the entire film, Teddy fabricates stories and uses his charismatic personality to get what he wants until he is inevitably outed.
Predictably, Lisa is not really all that high-maintenance, just highly successful. After catching Teddy in a lie she proclaims, “I make my own money. Do you think I care what kind of car you drive? If you think that, then you don’t know me.” She then removes her engagement ring and ghosts Teddy the old fashioned way, by walking out on him without another word.
Overtly speaking to the everybody-gets-a-trophy generation, the message here is that people do not get what they want just for showing up. They have to put in the work and get what they deserve.
The entire cast of “Night School” worked well together but only a select few shined through on their own. The only scenes that were truly funny involved Haddish and her students, Jaylen and Luis. I really appreciate the strong, independent women depicted in the film and the stereotypes that were so clearly being mocked and then diffused as the characters developed.
This movie was definitely a pick-me-up with a strong message and a good plot, but it failed to generate as many laughs as expected. However, this might have been due to a lack of contagious laughter in the audience. There were only six people in the theater when I attended the film.
Despite its consequential message, at no point was “Night School” corny or sappy. Viewers were able to take it seriously. The acting was genuine, but some of the jokes were over-thought and felt forced. Since most comedies do not do well in the cinematography department, it came as no surprise that there were hardly any special effects or fancy visuals.
All in all, I did not hate “Night School,” but it did not make me laugh as much as I expected. I will not be paying to watch this movie again and suggest waiting for it to make its brief transition to Netflix or cable in the months to come. While the film had a strong storyline and effective representation, it is not what viewers are expecting to see. Those looking for laughs will leave theaters after receiving a life lesson.