Kevin Hart's latest film, Night School, delivers a few laughs but is largely a stale and repetitive comedy. The plot is simple, and representative of many comedies that have been released over the years. A simple plot is not a bad thing, but it needs to be propped up by some fresh comedy and solid acting, and Night School lacks both. The film greatly overstays its welcome, offering 111 minutes of unconvincing material. When the laughs do emerge, they are genuine, but they are also few and far between.
Teddy Walker (Kevin Hart) is a successful B.B.Q. grill salesman who has been hiding the fact that he is a high school dropout his entire life. Teddy's fiancé, Lisa (Megalyn Echikunwoke), who is very successful in her own right, has no idea that Teddy's Porsche, house and fancy clothes are all a façade. When things go horribly wrong at the B.B.Q. shop, Teddy is forced to finally get his GED in order to keep his lavish lifestyle afloat. As he begrudgingly accepts a spot in a local night school, Teddy is forced to deal with a no-nonsense teacher (Tiffany Haddish) and a rag-tag bunch of misfits.
From the get-go, it is very clear that this is Kevin Hart's film. He comes in like a freight train with his usual tropes and antics, and basically dominates the screen for the duration of the movie. This is not necessarily a good thing, however, as Hart struggles to carry the film on his own. Director Malcolm D. Lee did a reasonable job casting his night school classmates, with the likes of Rob Riggle, Romany Malco and Mary Lynn Rajskub offering some comedic relief, but everything seems overshadowed by Hart's loud screaming and crazy facial expressions. Hart is at his best as a secondary character, and while he does offer up some genuinely funny scenes, his jokes quickly become tired. The real bright spot in the film is the performance of Tiffany Haddish as Hart's tough-minded teacher. Although most of her work may be overshadowed, Haddish plays a convincing and admirable teacher that truly cares about her students.
Night School also briefly touches on the real-world struggles of people dealing with learning disabilities. The message is clear and concise, but almost comes off as disingenuous because of the lack of screen time it gets. At its core, the movie tries to offer some encouragement for people grappling with these disabilities. Unfortunately, the film never explores the topic for more than a few minutes and ultimately misses an opportunity to foster an emotional connection with Hart and the rest of the cast.
Although Night School may offer a few laughs, it is a mostly forgettable experience. Perhaps even big fans of Kevin Hart will be disappointed, as the actor fails to separate himself in a very crowded genre. It is important to note that a film like this is not meant to be taken too seriously, but even after looking at it with an open mind, the movie still misses the mark a bit.