Review: ‘Night School’: Makes Learning Funny

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The idea of going back to school for some people is equivalent to making a dentist appointment for most people. No one wants to take that first step in the direction to get that much needed root canal. This is even more painful when one feels their life is finally on track. Night School forces viewers to examine harsh realities through extreme scenarios, but shows its audience the important of determination.

Upon receiving excellent news by the owner of the BBQ store Teddy Walker (Kevin Hart) works for he feels his life is on track. He has a beautiful woman, an opportunity of a lifetime, he loves and is good at his job, nothing can go wrong. However, on the night he chooses to propose to his girlfriend Lisa (Megalyn Echikunwoke) his plans literally go up in smoke. Not all hope is loss though when his best friend Marvin (Ben Schwartz) offers him his job. There is only one catch. Teddy must acquire his GED.

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While deep down he knows that attaining his GED is the only way he will ever be able to get the job he deserves in life, he resists the idea of going back to school because he was never a good student. Classes were a waste of his time while getting real world experience was vastly superior. To make matters worse, the principal of his old high school is his high school nemesis Stewart (Taran Killam) and his night school teacher is a pull no punches teacher Carrie (Tiffany Haddish) that he insults before officially meeting her. The non-official meeting is the funniest in the opening of the film and the quips between Carrier and Teddy do not waiver throughout the feature.

Haddish and Hart have phenomenal chemistry. The two actors play well off each other and their slapstick antics within the film make for a delightful night of laughs at the theater. Night School also focuses on the additional classmates too.  All the classmates are misfits in their own rite, but manage to come together as one by the end of the feature. Think of it as if The Breakfast Club went to night school, but are not as hip or as cool as they were as teenagers. After all, a dance number is even included! However, instead of only having one weekend together, these characters are forced to spend far more time with each other, inevitably learning more about one another and forming bonds.

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The supporting cast is one of the best I have seen in a comedy in quite some time.  Each character provides his or her own unique spin on the scenarios they manage to get themselves into throughout the film. The group faces the woes of adulthood and often find themselves strained for time to make night school work for them forcing them to go to great lengths to make sure they are prepared.  During this preparation scene the talents of Theresa (Mary Lynn Rajskub) shines far more than I ever expected. Her interaction with Killam is one of the funniest moments within the feature from a supporting cast member.

Likewise Rajskub, Mackenzie (Rob Riggle) , Jaylen (Romany Malco), and Luis (Al Madrigal) all have their shining moments as well.  With each personality so different from one another, we see the day to day lives of people that could very well be us.  These characters are all over exaggerated versions of ourselves, but that’s what makes them oddly lovable by the end.  Even Bobby (Fat Joe) and Mila (Anne Winters)  are characters we want more for than their current situations. Madrigal steals a restaurant scene earlier within the film as well that comes back to initially bites Teddy upon meeting the group of misfit classmates.

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At the heart of the film is a desire to do better and to be better version of themselves even if the characters do not start out with this mentality. While some people might not see this as an attempt to better versions of themselves, I find that whenever we can be our true selves we are always a better version of oneself. Theresa is a prime example of discovering one’s true self within the film making her one of my favorite supporting characters within the feature. The film also reminds us of the importance of perseverance and that we can overcome any obstacle in our life.  We are also reminded that it is never too late to attempt to attain our dreams either.

Night School reminds us that we are not alone on our path to achieving greatness.  With our support system we can achieve what we desire.  The film also reminds us that it’s okay to laugh at ourselves during the difficult moments we feel we cannot go on.  More importantly though this is a film that makes sure to reinforce with hard work our dreams are attainable.  Sometimes we might not feel as if we are worthy of greatness, but with a little help from our friends and identifying how we make sense of the world around us, we are capable of anything.