Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish Go Head-to-Head in ‘Night School’
Two comedy giants, Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish, come together in “Night School,” the latest from “Girls Trip” director Malcolm D. Lee. Hart and Haddish, along with a stellar supporting cast that includes Taran Killam and Mary Lynn Rajskub, breathe plenty of life into a screenplay that was written by no less than six writers, including Hart and “Neighbors” scribe Nicholas Stoller. While the plot is hardly groundbreaking, this comedy packs in a plenty of heart and laughs.
The story revolves around Teddy Walker, who we first meet as a cocky high school senior. After freaking out while taking a standardized test, he drops out of school, declaring to his classmates that he’ll find more success in the real world than sitting in college. Fast forward to 17 years later, and Teddy is hardly in dire straits, as one would predict. Not only is he dating the successful and beautiful Lisa (Megalyn Echikunwoke), but he also has a decent job as the top salesman at a BBQ store. After that career goes up in flames, literally, his old friend Marvin (Ben Schwartz) offers him a job at his firm as a financial analyst on one condition – He first must earn his GED. To accomplish this, he has to return to his old high school and enroll in the night adult education program. Standing in his way is Stewart (Killam), his old high school nemesis who is now the principal. Further complicating things is the fact that the woman he got into a recent road rage incident with, Carrie (Haddish), is the night school teacher; basically, the woman who holds his future in his hands.
Teddy’s night school classmates are made up of the usual cast of misfits, including unfulfilled mom Theresa (Rajskub), conspiracy theorist Jaylen (Romany Malco), meathead Mac (Rob Riggle), badass Mila (Anne Winters), immigrant Luis (Al Madrigal), and Bobby (Fat Joe), a convict who Skypes in from prison. Predictably, these people from different walks of life form a kinship while working to better themselves.
Somewhat constrained in her role as a teacher, Haddish doesn’t pack quite the same punch as she did in “Girls Trip,” but she holds her own against Hart. At one point, it’s hinted that there may be a romantic future for Teddy and Carrie, but she dashes any hopes of that in an abrupt and hilarious fashion, turning that romantic comedy trope right on its head. As expected, a lot of tepid jokes are made at the expense Hart’s height, but there is an amusing subplot involving his short stature being a “blessing” for a Chick-fil-A-like restuarant, Christian Chicken, as he is the perfect size to dress up as a bird and stand on the side of the road.
It isn’t just the Hart and Haddish show, as the pair share the spotlight with their talented co-stars. Rajskub scores here as the sexually-frustrated Theresa, and Killam gets high marks for what he brings to the role of the weasley Stewart, a guy who still has a chip on his shoulder from being picked on in high school and tries to compensate by walking around with a bat and speaking in a “black voice.” Rajskub and Killam absolutely kill it together in one particular scene in which she attempts to seduce him by making use of a particularly trendy body part.
“Night School” opens Sept. 28 nationwide.