4K Ultra HD Edition
Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish,
Rob Riggle, Romany Malco
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Audio: DTS X
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Features: See Review
Length: 111 Minutes
Release Date: January 1, 2019
“Aren’t you a little old to be a pop star?”
“Aren’t you a little young to die?”
The first thing that struck me while watching Night School was taking notice of how many credited writers the movie has. I find it astounding that a film like Sorry to Bother You, which is operating so many areas at a masterful level, was able to emerge from the mind of one individual. Meanwhile, you have a grand total of six writers on an alleged comedy, and there’s barely a genuine chuckle throughout the entire thing.
When Kevin Hart burst onto the movie scene, I was rooting for him. I had been a big fan of his stand up material in the years leading up to his breakout on the big screen. He does possess something of a unique comedy energy.
Not all of his movies have been of superb quality, but none have been as gratingly unfunny as Night School. What makes it even worse is that this marks the first film that Hart himself helped to write. If the end result is any indication, he may want to simply stay in front of the camera on future projects.
Hart plays Teddy Walker, a high school drop out who’s been happy selling barbeque grills. The owner even intends to hand the business over to Teddy when he soon retires. So naturally, Teddy accidentally blows up the establishment after proposing to his girlfriend (surviving, I might add, a huge fire burst that even Tom Cruise would look at and go, “really?”).
So with nothing else to fall back on in the way of meaningful employment, Teddy must enroll in night school. And because he’s under the impression that night school will be a breezy walk in the park, it’s only inevitable that he’s proven wrong once he crosses paths with his super sassy teacher, Carrie (Tiffany Haddish). And in another huge plot development, Teddy is saddled in a classroom with a group of adult misfits who are each getting their GED’s for supposed hilarious reasons.
Among the movie’s many problems, and trust me there are a ton of them, is that most of the comedy relies on a trope that I’ve always found aggravating. The trope in question is that when nothing in the material is working, just shout your lines and mug for the camera as much as possible and all will be somehow be funny. Hart and Haddish, who can be so much better than this, sadly resort to this trait during many of their back and forths with each other.
Eventually, Teddy is revealed to have dyslexia (or, as I should say, plot device). And it’s unfortunate that instead of taking time to follow this storyline in an intelligent manner, it’s only touched upon whenever the screenplay says it’s necessary, which isn’t very often. The movie is too busy being concerned with other shenanigans, like when Teddy and his classmates plot to break in the school and steal the final test in order to ensure a passing grade, which includes a moment when one of the classmates falls off the top of the school building, twisting his arm as a result…only to be completely injury-free when we next see him.
Genuinely funny comedies are seriously few and far between for me these days. Outside of Game Night, I don’t think there’s been a single release in the genre I’ve enjoyed or found even remotely funny this year. If more movies like Night School keep getting produced, comedies with actual laughs might end up being a thing of the past.
A movie like this isn’t meant to be a game changer in the visual department, but Universal does deliver a most decent 4K presentation. Colors are extremely lively in the proceedings, and overall image detail is superb, right down to the appearance of faces, clothes and settings.
The DTS X audio mix does deliver very well in the realm of physical comedy and music playback. Dialogue delivery is thoroughly sharp and without any flaws, and balances out terrifically well with all other aural proceedings.
Included on this Universal release are an Extended Cut of the movie, as well as a commentary with director Malcolm D. Lee and a number of featurettes. These include “Night School's in Session!”, “Who's the Student? Who's the Teacher?”, “Prom Night Revisited”, “Cap 'n Gown 'n Giggles”, “Making of the Dance Battle”, “Christian Chicken” and “Game Over”. There’s also an Extended Performance of "El Sueno" from the prom sequence, as well as Deleted Scenes and a Gag Reel.
Night School is lazy comedy at its worst, in addition to being predictable every step of the way and way overlong at nearly two hours! Needless to say, this one gets a failing grade.