Plot: Andy (Charlie Day) is an English teacher at a less than ideal school, one where the students have no interest in education and the school officials are more concerned with the budget than anything else. The school is always a mess, but this day is bound to be worse than most, as it is the annual day where seniors play pranks on each other, as well as the school’s staff. Andy is harassed by his students, who draw a permanent penis on his white board, but he takes solace in knowing later in the afternoon, he will see his daughter’s talent show performance. When history teacher Strickland (Ice Cube) asks for some assistance with playing a video, Andy uncovers a student using an app to shut off the television. This sparks a rage within Strickland, who is tired of disrespectful students and as such, he shatters the kid’s phone, smashes the television, and takes an ax to some of the desks. Then Andy reveals what happens and Strickland is fired, which leads to him challenging Andy to a fight. Of course, Andy wants no part of any kind of fight, but can he find a loophole before the showdown?
Entertainment Value: If this premise sounds familiar, it should, as it has been explored in countless films across numerous genres, from High Noon to Three O’Clock High. I found this spin on the premise to be rather mediocre and forgettable, but it does have a few effective moments and an interesting cast. Charlie Day is fine in the lead, but he is the same character in almost all of his movies, an awkward but well meaning guy in over his head. So this is pretty much the same performance we’ve seen countless times, which is good for fans of his work, but not great for anyone who would like to see more of his comedic range. Ice Cube scowls with all of his might, but just doesn’t come as scary, more of a goofy, unstable vibe. I suspect this was to keep his character likable, but not having an effective threat does dampen the comedic tension. The supporting cast outshines the leads, with Jillian Bell and Christina Hendricks getting most of the laughs, especially Hendricks in a strange, fun role. The movie tries to present this wild, over the top series of events, but it plays like unrelated vignettes and never really tries to tell a story, just random pockets of jokes. I wish it would have embraced the insanity and given us a viable threat to Andy, but in the end, the movie is harmless, fluff comedy that asks little and gives little in return.
An early scene has a couple topless women, but it is part of a porn video being shown on a laptop. So despite the tiny visible window and soft visuals, I have to score one point, but that’s all the nakedness here. The movie makes a good amount of sexual comments and innuendos, but it is all talk and no action. The movie has some violence, but it is played for comedic impact, at least up until the finale. The conclusion has some high impact, but over the top violence, which is a little more visceral, but still aimed for laughs over shock. So expect some mild, fight related bloodshed, but nothing graphic or intense. The dialogue is mostly by the numbers attempts to get some gutter laughs, but a lot of the material didn’t land for me. I felt like the leads phone it in for the most part and since they carried a big chunk of the script, the movie often goes decent stretches between laughs. But Jillian Bell and Christina Hendricks deliver some sharp lines, while Tracy Morgan is his usual nonsensical, but sometimes hilariously random self. As much as the movie wants to be this out of control, off the rails story, it feels pretty standard in most respects. Some of the supporting characters and smaller threads have some quirk, but not much.
Overall Insanity: 1/10