Night School (2 stars)

Night School

Malcolm D Lee and Tiffany Haddish follow their smash Girls Trip with an occasionally cringing comedy

Tiffany Haddish adds her name to the list of inspirational teachers in film, such as Richard Dreyfuss in Mr Holland's Opus or Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds. Unfortunately, unlike her predecessors, she isn't given enough screen-time to do her thing in this occasionally cringing comedy. With Kevin Hart playing one of her many adult pupils, the focus is firmly on the students' learning as they blag their way through wacky slapstick schemes in order to pass their GED.

The film attempts to strike a similar tone to Dan Harmon's sitcom Community, where an ensemble of misfits form a study group. In Night School the characters lack the same charm, though there are a couple of stand-outs who may raise a giggle or two. The choice of Al Madrigal's service industry worker to wilfully ignore the mantra that the customer is always right is amusing, as is Mary Lynn Rajskub's turn as a stay-at-home mother who keeps insisting she is 'blessed' to have a partner who continually takes her for granted. Keith David as a disappointed, aggravated father is another high-point.

Director Malcolm D Lee has a decent record when it comes to comedy, but this is a regrettably formulaic entry that, despite a sweet denouement about honesty, integrity and hard work, fails to muster much merriment across its running time. Lee's previous feature, Girls Trip, launched Haddish into the mainstream and left audiences thirsty for more of her potty-mouthed hilarity. However, the badly dubbed dialogue masking certain profanities shows how this film has been watered down.

Whenever Haddish is on screen, taking down bad behaviour or displaying a gentler side, there are glimmers of the kind of gold that might have made this a success; that's before the team of six writers bulldozed the screenplay with bland physical comedy and semi-incoherent set-pieces.

General release from Fri 28 Sep.

Night School

  • 2 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 1h 51min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee
  • Cast: Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Brooke Butler
  • UK release: 28 September 2018

Teddy (Hart) has to go back to school to get his GED, only to run up against teacher Carrie (Haddish). Fitfully amusing comedy which pulls too many punches and shows evidence of having been heavily watered-down in post-production; Haddish isn’t given nearly enough to do and it’s bland and lacking coherence.