THE REEL: Comedy, drama and a lesson on learning disabilities in 'Night School'

Friday February 08 2019

A poster of the movie "Night School". PHOTO | COURTESY


Love him or hate him Kevin Hart’s constant growth in the industry has been something of a showbiz phenomenon.

In his natural hyperactive comedic style, he brings most of the laughs in Night School, and between him and Tiffany Haddish there is enough promise of a decent picture.

Hart plays Teddy Walker, a high school dropout who eventually does well for himself as a barbeque grills salesman at BBQ. However, he finds himself unemployed through an unfortunate twist of events. His best friend, Marvin (Ben Schwartz), tells him he might be able to find a position for him in his company but he needs a GED (basically to graduate from high school) before he can land it.

Teddy then proceeds to enrol in a night class at the same high school he went to 17 years prior.

He goes in the first day hoping to use his “charm” to convince the principal to give him an unmerited GED. This plan is quickly dispensed with after he meets Stuart (Taran Killam) the high school principal.

Tiffany Haddish is in a somewhat familiar role to the one she played in Girls Trip, as an obscene, loud, truth-teller, as she plays the night school class teacher, Carrie.



I liked how Haddish’s and Hart’s characters clicked right from the first scene. As they both pull up to a red light in separate vehicles, he starts badgering her for being a loudmouth. She comes back at him with a barrage of insults and, by the time she calls him a leprechaun, the back and forth has already graduated to literal grunts and snarls.

The film also brings to the fore the topic of learning disabilities when Hart learns that he has dyslexia, together with a cocktail of other learning disabilities which have no cure, a situation which he describes as “learning herpes”.

Megalyn Echikunwoke plays Hart’s rich fiancé, Lisa, who seems out of his league, which gives him all the reason to hide his educational failures.

On the first night class we are introduced to Hart’s classmates: Theresa (Mary Lynn Rajskub), an overworked mum who constantly repeats out loud “I’m so blessed” as if to convince herself that; Jaylen (Romany Malco), some sort of mystic; Luis (Al Madrigal), a Mexican immigrant who hopes to become a dental hygienist and song writer; Mackenzie (Rob Riggle), is the class dork; and Bobby (Fat Joe), a jailed convict who Skypes into class from his correctional facility.

None of these characters stood out for me. Not even Madrigal’s hilarious pronunciation of “dental hygienist” in a Mexican accent, which was sadly the most memorable of his scenes, quickly turns sour after an absurd number of repetitions.

I felt the film did not reach its full potential as the writing was a bit wanting in plot, structure and the script maybe succumbing to the pressure of appealing to a younger crowd, what with the PG-13 rating.

It almost seems as if Hart gave his character all the punch lines, being one of the co-writers, and just had the other roles put in as fillers for a movie cast. The picture is fairly decent and elicits enough laughs for the entire 111 minutes that it runs.


Do you have feedback on this article? Please email: [email protected]