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Review: Night School

Pass or Fail? Depends on how high (or low) you set the bar for a formulaic comedy with the likeable yet totally predictable Kevin Hart. If really low (like, lower than Ride Along 2), then Night School eeks out a passing grade. Otherwise, skip it. Or at least wait until you’re stuck on an airplane or a long car/bus/train ride and want to kill a couple hours with a weak but relatively harmless ensemble comedy featuring Girls Trip breakout star Tiffany Haddish.

Here’s the gist: Teddy Walker (Hart) is a natural salesman, recently engaged, hoping to move up in the world. A friend offers to get him a job as a financial analyst, but first, Teddy needs to get his GED. So he heads back to his almost-alma mater, Piedmont High School in Atlanta, and starts taking night classes alongside a group of misfits that includes: Mackenzie (Rob Riggle), a former jock who is there because he struck a deal with his teenage son that they would both get their high school diplomas; Jaylen (Romany Malco), a guy who lost his job to a robot and therefore distrusts all forms of technology; Luis (Al Madrigal) an immigrant waiter and aspiring singer who got fired because of a disgusting prank pulled by Teddy; Theresa (24’s Lynn Rajskub), a lonely homemaker desperate to get out of the house for a few hours; Mila (Anne Winters, 13 Reasons Why) a spoiled millennial trying to avoid juvie and get into college; and ‘Fat Joe’ (Joseph Cartegna), a prison inmate taking the class via Skype, because he’s got – well – plenty of time on his hands. Their teacher is Carrie (Haddish), an overworked but dedicated educator who won’t stand for any funny business, such as… oh, I don’t know… stealing the practice test?

Spoiler alert (not really): the misfits learn to rely on each other for encouragement and support, gaining valuable life lessons along the way.

And of course, there are a few really gross jokes, a predictable misunderstanding with the fiancé, and a dance-off at the high school prom.

Ultimately, Night School is like a bloated episode of the TV show “Community”, only not as witty. Hart and Director Malcolm D. Lee (Girls Trip, The Best Man franchise) encouraged the ensemble cast, many with comedic backgrounds, to improvise as they saw fit. Mix that with a screenplay that credits six different writers and you get the jumbled mess that is Night School, a movie with a decent premise and a decent cast that fails to deliver on its potential.

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