Welcome to the House of Crouse. Today “Fist Fight” director Richie Keen talks about sneaking on to the sets of John Hughes films and how it made him feel like he finally found the place he belonged. Then Natalie Brown swings by to chat about making “XX,” a new horror anthology film written, produced, directed and starring women! Pull up a beab bag by the fireplace and hang out with us. You’re always welcome at the House of Crouse. No walls here.
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Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the Ice Cube high school comedy “Fist Fight,” the Matt Damon white saviour flick “The Great Wall,” Dane DeHaan in the incomprehensible “The Cure for Wellness” and “My Scientology Movie.”
Watch the whole thing HERE!
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Erin Paul to have a look at the big weekend movies, the Ice Cube high school comedy “Fist Fight,” the Matt Damon white saviour flick “The Great Wall,” Dane DeHaan in the incomprehensible “The Cure for Wellness” and “My Scientology Movie.”
Watch the whole thing HERE!
Fist Fight features so much bad language it completely outpaces f-word aficionados Tarantino and Scorsese combined. Accompanying the cussing are bad behaviour, violence and loads of oh-no-he-didn’t jokes all set against the backdrop of the end of semester at the rough-’n’-tumble Roosevelt High School.
Trying to hang on until the final bell rings are well-meaning English teacher Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) and Ron Strickland (Ice Cube), the world’s toughest history teacher. When Campbell accidentally gets Strickland fired a bad day goes from crappy to cruddy. “I’m going to fight you,” the amped-up Strickland says, looking for some street justice. “After school, meet me in the parking lot.”
As the #teacherfight spreads across social media, a crowd gathers in the parking lot to witness the carnage. After some hand-to-hand combat Campbell and Strickland come to terms with one another, learning important lessons with each punch.
My grade nine homeroom teacher Mrs. Armstrong wouldn’t recognize Roosevelt High as the kind of school she taught in, but it’s familiar territory for Hollywood, which has long used school hallways as a study of teen life. Relationships between students and teachers have fuelled movies like Blackboard Jungle and To Sir with Love, but just as interesting is the culture of the student body.
John Hughes mined the teenage dynamic for all it was worth in a series of classic teen operas like Sixteen Candles, but it’s The Breakfast Club that remains his most insightful look at high school life. The story is simple: five high school archetypes — the jock, the mean girl, the brainiac, the rebel and the outsider — thrown together during a nine-hour Saturday detention become unlikely friends, revealing their innermost secrets. “We’re all pretty bizarre,” says Andrew (Emilio Estevez). “Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.”
It’s the emotional intensity of The Breakfast Club that makes it one of the most insightful high school films ever. Thirty-two years after its release it still feels fresh, but for my money one of the best looks at life in the halls comes from Emma Stone’s film Easy A.
The movie begins with the voiceover, “The rumours of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated.” It’s Olive (Stone), a clean-cut high school senior who tells a little white lie about losing her virginity. When the gossip mill gets a hold of the info, her life takes a parallel course to the heroine of the book she is studying in English class — The Scarlet Letter. At first she embraces her newfound notoriety; after all she had been all but invisible at the beginning of the school year. It isn’t until the lies and gossip start to spin out of control that she has to assert her virginity.
All the best high school movies — Election, Heathers, Dazed and Confused and Mean Girls — share that sentiment. The names, schools and places may change but it is the labours of students and teachers, like Fist Fight’s Andy Campbell and Ron Strickland, to find themselves and figure out what it all means that makes them interesting and relatable. As we learned studying Aristotle in philosophy class, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom,” and, in Hollywood’s case, entertainment too.
Director Richie Keen calls his debut film Fist Fight “a rated-R John Hughes film.”
The story of two teachers, played by Ice Cube and Charlie Day, who settle their differences in the schoolyard after the final bell is more rough ‘n’ tumble than anything the Sixteen Candles director ever attempted but Keen says he learned from Hughes’ habit of making sure the characters were true to themselves.
“John Hughes was one of my idols and he was so good at doing sweet moments. You’d see a movie and be laughing your ass off and then there’d be a real, sweet, great moment.
“I have my radar up that the heart, especially in this movie, comes from a very real character place. I feel like a very typical note that a director and writer might get is, ‘We need more heart.’ For me what they are really saying is that they are not connecting with the characters enough so I was very careful. It’s an R-rated comedy about two guys punching … each other a lot so I didn’t try and infuse false, sweet moments.”
Hughes’ influence dates back to childhood.
“I grew up in the ‘80s in suburban Chicago, in Highland Park, Illinois,” he says. “I just couldn’t believe they were making movies in and around my hometown. I was a little kid and John Hughes started coming into town. In Ferris Bueller there were some great scenes in my hometown. I would hop on my bike and I’d go watch them film. That’s how close it was happening. In high school it was Home Alone. I thought it was cool and this is going to sound strange but every time I was on or near a set I was like, ‘This is where I should be.’ It just lit me up in a way that other things didn’t.”
For years Keen made commercials, short films and was the house director on the hit TV comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia but says “I had no chance of getting this or any movie.”
After much cajoling he landed the Fist Fight gig, with just one proviso. He had to convince Ice Cube he was the man for the job. With just one day’s notice he flew to Atlanta to meet the Barbershop star.
“I had dressed in a nice outfit as my Jewish parents had taught me to do when you have a job interview,” he says. “I started drinking coffee and as time passed I started getting more jittery and more sweaty and by the time Ice Cube was waiting in the lobby I was in a T-shirt and sweaty.”
Intimidated by the rap legend — “The guy wrote No Vaseline,” he says. “It’s intimidating to meet him.” He pitched for 45 minutes, finally ending with, “‘Cube, are we doing this?’ Cube smiled and leaned back in his chair and thought for a second and said, ‘You know what? You flew out here at a moment’s notice. I love what you had to say. Let’s go make a movie motherBLEEPER.’”
The result is a raunchy movie with Ice Cube, some John Hughes-style heart and even some social commentary.
“I really wanted to shine a light on the public school system. Not to be heavy about it but I wanted to ground it in something.”
“Fist Fight” is a vulgar teen comedy, like “Porky’s” only with 1000% more jokes about penises, masturbation and sex. Then there’s the bad language that completely outpaces f-word aficionados Tarantino and Scorsese combined. Grandma won’t like this loose remake of the 1987 teen comedy “Three O’Clock High,” but anyone who’s ever dreamed of a raunchy version of “Revenge of the Nerds” should find a laugh or two here.
It’s the end of the semester at the rough-‘n-tumble Roosevelt High School, the kind of school where teachers complain the students are unteachable and the guidance counselor smokes crack to cope with the chaos. To compound matters, it’s Prank Day. That means strategically placed paint bombs, a horse, high on meth, roaming the halls and other mean spirited and dangerous hijinks.
Trying to get through the day are Andy Campbell (Charlie Day), a well-meaning English teacher and Ron Strickland (Ice Cube), the world’s toughest history teacher. Between the student shenanigans and budget cuts that threaten everyone’s jobs, tensions run high. When Campbell accidentally gets Strickland fired a bad day goes from crappy to craptastic. “I’m going to fight you,” says the amped up Strickland looking for some street justice. “After school meet me in the parking lot and we’ll handle this.”
The mild-mannered Campbell has never been in a fight but knows he can’t back down. As the #teacherfight spreads across social media a crowd gathers in the parking lot to witness the carnage. Before the fight begins, however, Campbell has a few things to take care of, including dancing with his daughter at a talent show.
“Fist Fight” is an anything-goes comedy that softens nears the end to deliver a few knockout punches on bullying, school budget cuts and doing the right thing. The messaging gets lost amid the mile-a-minute gags but its there if you squint your eyes and look very closely.
Not that the movie is much interested in anything but the laughs. It tries hard—almost too hard—to get a giggle out of the viewer, carpet bombing the audience with jokes, only about half of which land. Ten-year-old Alexa Nisenson nearly steals the show with a no-holds barred rendition of a Big Sean song. It’s wrong, completely wrong, but her message to a school bully is undeniable and joyful even if it turns the air at the junior high talent show blue. Also, it’s great to see Tracy Morgan back in action after his car accident.
Most of the heavy lifting lands on the backs of Day and Cube. It’s funny to hear Ice Cube seamlessly work in the title of his most famous song into a gag and Day brings a certain kind of Don Knotts charm to the role of the mild-mannered man who finds his inner gumption. They both deliver laughs, but many are of the oh-no-he-didn’t variety rather than deep belly laughs.
“Fist Fight” doesn’t lack punch, but many of the jokes feel like open handed slaps than direct hits.