Admittedly, it is tough to write comedy and likely even more of a tall order to act it, having no experience myself with the latter. Kevin Hart plays an awkward but confident African American named Theodore Walker who insists on being called Teddy, and who has never been able to thrive in an academic environment, having never graduated from high school.
But shortly after Teddy proposes to the love of his life, Lisa (Megalyn Echikunwoke), he burns down Joe’s BBQ City where his boss held him in the highest esteem until that night. Then, after he is fired, he wakes up to the realization he does not have enough to build a future with her, career-wise, and that he needs to acquire his GED.
So Teddy sucks up, even though he must also confront his archnemesis who boasts of his success as a principal and maintains the order of the high school through strict discipline. For instance, he does not allow any of his students to use their headphones for any music, except to learn a language through the Rosetta Stone program. He also constantly wields a baseball bat which Teddy expresses his terror of.
Not only does “Night School” has a unique sense of humor, but it also addresses issues like disabilities that affect learning. Teddy’s obstacle is that he is not able to focus and that is how he both charms the customers, an elderly lady who he flatters by saying how she can handle steel when she looks at a grill. But his charming personality also reflects how he is a people pleaser which reflects his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He does not feel comfortable with himself so in his attempts to impress others, particularly Lisa, he starts a fire on accident which gets him booted from his steady job.
The other characters, in their own conflicts, help grow Teddy too. I found that Hart and Carrie (Tiffany Haddish) possess strong chemistry when they acted together in their personalities. The irony is you believe that they will have some sort of affair and even when Lisa meets Carrie, the GED teacher, she has her suspicions. But even Carrie isn’t quite the straight person that Teddy believes she is.
Honestly, I felt the downside of “Night School” is that many of the stories felt unfinished or rushed. While Teddy is the main character, I wondered if he was thrown into the group and they liked each other too quickly without showing how they connected. Each character revealed their own quirks that would have their potential conflicts with other characters but does not feel fully fleshed out.
Altogether the movie felt like it had too much going on. The characters included a Latino waiter who dreams of being the next Justin Bieber, a high school student into drugs, a woman who dropped out of high school because she got pregnant, and a dad who wants to achieve his GED so his son will follow his example. “Night School” even showed a felon named Bobby who attended the school via Skype and from what I could tell, seemed like a normal person who just landed in a bad situation at the wrong time.
All in all, while the chemistry between Hart and Haddish is the frosting on the cake, the cake felt like it fell flat and leaving some taste to be desired. If you need a movie with a strange sense of humor to deflect from your own life, it is not a terrible watch.
Feature photo courtesy of Associated Press.