In a very similar style in regards to Bad Neighbours 2 (2016), I kind of expected this film to be equal in stupid antics. I, unfortunately, was not disappointed.
This film was indeed filled with hair pulling, eye-rolling antics. But, unlike Bad Neighbours 2, I found myself actually enjoying the film. I laughed more than I probably have done in a while. But don’t mistake my laughter for enjoyment. Oh no. My laughter was because of the sheer stupidity of Adam Campbell (Charlie Day).
The film opens up with Adam arriving at school. Instantly we are told that Roosevelt High has gone to shit – the students have been allowed to run wild with their pranks, which include placing a laptop playing porn in the trophy cabinet, letting a horse high on meth run around the school, and cutting the grass on the field so there’s a picture of a penis.
Adam is shown to extremely passive, allowing a student to park in his spot without much of a complaint and shrugging it off as another one of their pranks.
He doesn’t really spend much time in the classroom teaching during the film. Instead, when we do see Adam teach, we see the gradual decline of his sanity (as they are placed at different times in the film) so his rehearsed speech gets worse every time. But it’s during the first speech that he realises the students have pulled another prank and have drawn graphic images on the whiteboard in sharpie.
All of this builds to the main event. Strickland (Ice Cube).
Strickland, for lack of a better word, is terrifying. Students in this god awful school watch on in silence. Nobody messes with Strickland. Which is probably what Adam, after Strickland asks for help, is reluctant to follow. But, like the bathroom mat he is, Adam lets Strickland walk all over him.
In the classroom, Strickland has been having problems with the TV. Unknown to him, a student has been pulling a prank by downloading a universal remote on his phone and turning the TV off periodically. Being the eagle-eyed observer, Adam quickly susses out the problem.
This is where we learn that nobody messes with Strickland. He grabs the students phone and throws it against the wall, shattering it to a million pieces. Finally, peace has been restored and Strickland resumes with putting the film on.
Except the student is handed another phone with the app and the prank continues. Strickland is now furious. Which is probably why he overreacts. He storms out of the classroom and comes back with an axe and attacks the students’ desk – thankfully now unoccupied.
“Snitches gets stitches”
Obviously, both teachers are pulled into the principal’s office to explain the situation where Adam promptly throws Strickland under the bus.
And that, my friends, is why Strickland challenges Adam to a fist fight.
The rest of the film is basically everything Adam tries to do to make sure this fight doesn’t happen. Inevitably, it does. I mean, it would be a shittier film if there wasn’t actually a fist fight at the end.
So yeah, the film wasn’t great. But what I can appreciate is the growth in Adam and the slight change in Strickland, which makes the film leagues better than Bad Neighbours 2. Adam stops being a wet blanket. He stops letting everyone walk over him and it is so. damn. satisfying.
Strickland doesn’t change much. but he does become a lot less hostile by the end of the film.
Of course, there is a lot more about the film I could discuss, like Adam’s daughter’s performance in the latter half of the film, or the truly cringe-worthy Holly and her pursuit to have sex with one of the students.
I mean, I could discuss how this film is a complete step back in all things feminist, but what would be the point? Yeah, the film featured some minor two-dimensional female characters, and yes they could have been a hell of a lot better. But it kind of worked for this film not to have it (mainly because the film focuses more on how men are really, really dumb sometimes -especially when they think the solution to all their problems lies at the end of their fists).
I guess, at the end of the day, you’ll just have to make up your own mind.