There are no surprises with Night School, especially if you have seen the trailer or any of Kevin Hart’s sub-par comedic releases over the past five years. It is a generic and harmless comedy, the equivalent of watching a bad sitcom with no real plot structure and a bloated run-time. After a long day in the reality of the world, there are worse things than shutting your brain off and watching a stupid comedy. I’m just pretty sure that if my brain were off enough to enjoy this film, I would probably be dead. But those who typically enjoy the high-pitched short jokes of Kevin Hart will likely find this adequate entertainment.
Along with giving Hart the opportunity to write a screenplay for the first time (with the help of five writers with more experience), Night School is clearly an effort to further promote the career of recent star, Tiffany Haddish. Night School is directed by Malcolm D. Lee, who previously directed Haddish in her breakout role in Girls Trip, but this time she is completely miscast and constantly struggles with the dialogue that isn’t improvised. Fortunately, it is clear that there has been a lot of improvisation in the dialogue. Unfortunately, the effort to add jokes to the script also results in characters and situations that rarely resemble reality. Often awkwardness is used in place of cleverness, leading to scenes that go nowhere and advance nothing. Worst of all, they elicit no laughs.
Haddish uncomfortably plays a high school teacher who also teaches a night class to a group of misfits. Among these misfits is high school dropout, Teddy (Hart). Although he has successfully navigated through life as a salesman, Teddy’s sudden loss of his job leaves him with the need to get his GED before his fiancée discovers his secret. In completely contrived fashion, the principal of the high school happens to be a former classmate (Taran Killam) that Teddy once bullied. This sets up a ridiculous situation in which a grown man hides his efforts to better himself, and another grown man interferes with these efforts.
The plot is silly and unbelievable, but it is basically just an excuse to get a bunch of actors in a room to play comedic stereotypes. Joining Teddy in class is uptight housewife, Theresa (Mary Lynn Rajskub), a cynical millennial, Mila (Anne Winters), a Mexican immigrant aspiring for a better life named Luis (Al Madrigal), a stereotypical black man named Jaylen (Romany Malco) who speaks only in slang, and a large amicable white guy who goes by Big Mac (Rob Riggle) but has inexplicably never heard of McDonalds. Oh yeah, and there is a student named Bobby (Fat Joe) using video chat to join class from prison. While never exactly mean-spirited, many of the jokes about these characters rely on base racial stereotypes that feel dated in 2019.
The theatrical release of Night School was bloated at 111-minutes, and the extended cut also released with this package has another five minutes unnecessarily added. It doesn’t make the film funnier, just longer. But if you were fine with the quality of the film, you might be pleased to have more of the same, and the extras have plenty of that. Along with the extended cut, there is an alternate opening, deleted scenes, extended scenes, and a gag reel. The only special feature on the 4K disc is the gag reel, while all of them are included on the additional Blu-ray disc which is in the package, along with a digital copy. Although the 4K presentation is pretty unnecessary, I will say that some of the brighter colors seemed blown out on the Blu-ray disc as opposed to the richer depth of the 4K presentation. But unless you care about the color of the wardrobe in your stupid comedies, there isn’t a need to be picky about format for Night School.
Entertainment Value: 6/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 4.5/10
Historical Significance: 2/10
Special Features: 6/10