Night School (PG-13)

Comedy 111 min. September 28, 2018
By Bilge Ebiri
Night School showcases both the perils and rewards of the high-concept comedy. The idea practically sells itself: Kevin Hart has to take night classes to get his high school degree, and Tiffany Haddish plays his suffer-no-bullshit teacher. It’s inspired casting, to be sure, our two most talented and energetic motormouths.

But first, there’s a whole lot of story to get through. Hart plays Teddy, whom we see driving a Porsche with his beautiful girlfriend Lisa (Megalyn Echikunwoke); turns out he lives paycheck to paycheck, spending all his money on impressing the way-out-of-his-league Lisa.

One catastrophic (and pretty funny) mishap later, Teddy needs a new job. His pal Marvin (Ben Schwartz), a financial analyst, tells him he can get Teddy hired at his firm — but only if Teddy gets his GED. So he enrolls at a night class taught by the chatty, profane and filter-free Carrie (Haddish). Initial complication: The two have already met, thanks to a traffic altercation during which she called him a “burnt leprechaun.” Additional complication: The school is run by his former nemesis Stewart (Taran Killam), a judgmental nerd who picked on Teddy back in the day.

None of these elements is enough to fuel a whole movie, so Teddy has a whole class of fellow goofballs and dropouts to meet. Here we crash into the annoying side of high concept, the part where the filmmakers actually have to pretend to care about the story they’re trying to tell. Night School spends way too much time dealing with subplots, and a movie billed as a Haddish-Hart face-off winds up, at least in its first half, not giving them much interesting to do.
Malcolm D. Lee Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Rob Riggle, Taran Killam, Romany Malco Kevin Hart Universal Pictures

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