Tag Archives: Ice Cube

Fist Fight

The first mistake Fist Fight makes, and it makes it before it even starts, is assuming everyone in the audience is high. Not just assuming, but requiring. Requiring it, necessitating it with its very premise, yet rudely NOT passing out joints before the opening credits roll. There is nothing about this movie that will make sense unless you are largely mentally incapacitated. Let me be clear: there is no amount of marijuana that will help this movie to make any sense in the strictest definition of the word. There may, however, be a sweet spot where you just don’t care, and if you find it, let me know.

Charlie Day is a mild-mannered English teacher and Ice Cube is an intimidating history teacher at the same “rough” high school where it’s the last day of school, students are fistfight0003wild, and everyone’s job is on the chopping block. Before first period is even over, Ice Cube takes the chopping a little too literally, taking an actual fire ax to a student’s desk. Mean principal Tyler (Dean Norris) insists on firing one of them on the spot, and since Charlie Day’s got a baby due any minute (and is in fact NOT the one to threaten students with an ax), he lets Tyler know that Ice Cube is perhaps the obvious choice. This enrages Ice Cube, and instead of taking his anger out on the student who pissed him off, or the principal who just fired him, or the superintendent who made him interview for his own job, he for no apparent reason zeroes in on the innocent and oblivious Charlie Day, who we’ve already established as a “coward” for no particular reason, but he’s wearing khakis and a nubby sports coat, so let’s go with it.

Charlie Day spends the rest of his day in a total panic, trying to avoid this #teacherfight. Will he stoop to black mailing students? Planting drugs on fellow teachers? Lying to his pregnant wife and disappointing his young daughter? Of course he will. And most egregiously, he will go to Tracy Morgan for advice. I mean, I can suspend my disbelief enough to allow for a horse amped up on homemade meth. Sure. But someone seeking out Tracy Morgan for advice? Come on.

I have an enormous crush on Ice Cube, and he’s very Ice Cube-y in this. And Charlie Day is fistfightquite Charlie Day. It’s too bad nobody wrote for them. Or really wrote at all, period. The run up to the #teacherfight is so standard you’ll wonder where you’ve seen it before and realize the answer is: everywhere. This movie borrows heavily from all kinds of mediocre movies and doesn’t even bother to steal the best stuff. It’s lazy. And absurd. And when the fight occurs, it’ll require exceptions to the rules of time and space that your brain won’t even be able to handle, nor will it want to because this movie just doesn’t deserve that kind of effort.

Fist Fight has all the makings of a mid-February comedy. It’s like it didn’t even try to be anything more.

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Ride Along 2

Don’t worry, guys, Kevin Hart is now a legitimate cop (he was just a security guard wannabe the first time around) but he’s still fucking things up hilariously for his “partner” and soon-to-be brother-in-law, Ice Cube. Detective Cube is just as reticent as ever and has no patience for a lowly ride-along-60beat cop, but fate (or convenient scripting) intervenes to make sure they’re back in the same care for yet another ride – this time all the time to Miami.

There’s nothing overtly wrong with this movie, it’s just an attempt to squeeze more money out of the same damn stone. Buddy-cop formula? Regurgitation to the max. And you know what regurgitation is right? It’s like when the mama bird eats a worm but instead of swallowing all the way, she saves it in her throat to later barf up into her baby’s mouth. That’s what this movie is to us. They sloughed off the basic idea of the first, chewed it up a bit, and vomited the mushy mess onto the big screen.

This doesn’t sound like much of an endorsement, does it? But I have to give this movie the props it deserves: it stars two black dudes (“blentlemen”) in the title roles and STILL has a cast full of people of colour. It’s an exercise in diversity that looks and feels effortless and yet is rarely achieved in Hollywood these days.

I like Cube and I like Hart but if there was anything fresh to add to this genre, they used it all up the first time around. Cube seems to play a cop in 80% of his films, which I suppose is a little karmic retribution for his NWA hit, Fuck Tha Police. Life is funny like that. Kevin Hart’s an interesting dude, though. He’s an ace stand-up comic and is a great choice for adding some manic, amped-up energy to any scenario, but he hasn’t found his break out role yet. Come to think of it, I know some people that are gambling it’ll be later this week with Central Intelligence, another entry into arguably the very same genre, this time alongside The Rock. Any bets? Will Kevin Hart finally get his due?

Barbershop: The Next Cut

What can I say? I was disarmed by this movie. It’s been 12 years since #2 was in theatres, 14 since the first, and a lot has changed. But if anything, this franchise has only grown stronger and funnier.

Calvin (Ice Cube) is still running the south-side Chicago shop, which he inherited from his father 14 years ago. It has survived tough economic times by merging with the beauty salon next door, so gone are the shop’s gloried “man cave” days. Almost the whole movie takes place within the walls of this shop, so it’s too bad director Malcolm D. Lee doesn’t embrace its physicality a little more, but at its heart it’s a set piece, and it thrives within the barbershop’s confines. Some of the old crew is back, but fresh faces blend in just fine, and it’s one of the strongest ensemble casts you’ll see.

Barbershop has always been about the good old boys sitting around, chewing the fat. Now they’ve got some strong female voices to contend with, but the gender divide only heightens the discourse. Barbershop has never been afraid to contend with real issues: they talk politics, feminism, the economy, the community. Malcolm is parenting a teenage son these days, so for him the stakes are higher. The barbershop’s in a neighbourhood all but lost to gang violence and the politicians are talking about choking off its blood supply. Some of the barbers want to rally and save their shop, but Malcolm’s reality is that maybe it’s time to get his family out of there, off to somewhere safer.

The movie thrives when all the barbers and stylists are at their stations cracking wise. Customers come and go. The script is remarkably tight during those scenes. They rely on charming actors and a great interplay between them, and it’s there. Particularly startling is the camaraderie between Ice Cube and co-star (and series newcomer) Common; the two feuded pretty heavily in the 90s when both were rappers. Those days seem long behind them, so who better to broker the peace between rival gangs with free haircuts during a 48 hour cease fire sponsored by their shop?c38c61fce43a52c49538a228c73364ac.960x960x1-400x200 It’s a desperate move made by people anxious to take back their neighbourhood.

This isn’t a perfect movie, and you’ll feel some missteps along the way, particularly when the action moves away from the barbershop. But it’s enjoyable, smart, and funny as hell. And it’s totally accessible – even if you’ve never seen another Barbershop movie, this is the perfect time to plunk down and have your first cut.