‘Catch These Hands’ an MMT Quick Review of FIST FIGHT by Darryl King

FIST FIGHT

Cheating on a test… stealing someone’s lunch money… and fighting after school are part of the unwritten underbelly of a school day. Perhaps by disagreement, major beefs or just sheer jealousy has led to many a riff, only to be answered by the bell at 3pm. “Catch these hands” currently is the street vernacular for fighting today, and aptly describes the plot for the movie “Fist Fight.”

“Fist Fight” is the latest film by Ice Cube, playing a hard-nosed History teacher in a school that lacks discipline and control. It’s the last day of school when most students lose all manner of decorum… they are just ready for the summer to begin. Usually a day filled with pranks, cutting class, and desecration of school grounds and property, this is the backdrop and scenario for the movie.

Charlie Day plays an English teacher who, much like the students, is ready for the school year to end and all he wants to do is survive the purge – until the day he crosses the meanest teacher in the school. An interesting premise, with wild high jinx factor, but can this movie be good?

“Fist Fight” is a surprisingly funny movie, well beyond what the trailers showed. Secondary stories help flesh out Charlie Day’s character, who exhibits some growth beyond the funny premise of two teachers fighting after school. Unfortunately, this role is the story that grows, all the other roles are “one note” as they are the same person from beginning to the end of the movie. Fortunately, they choose talent (Tracey Morgan, Jillian Bell) who are comedians – that usually play the same type of character in every movie they’re in.

Where this movie stalls is by drawing out the story until we get to the fight. As a simple premise that takes place over one school day, the film desperately tries to keep your interest until the fists fly – with unrealistic moments that couldn’t have been packaged during the duration of a school day. The saving grace for “Fist Fight” is the chemistry between Ice Cube & Charlie Day and their comedic timing – displayed as they adroitly switch back and forth between the straight man and the punch line.

Overall, “Fist Fight” is an entertaining film with moments that will make you laugh and a storyline that takes place over one day. This film should have been “22 Jump Street” meets “Horrible Bosses,” but it wound up as “Ride Along 2” meets “Horrible Bosses 2”. I would love to see Ice Cube and Charlie Day take another crack at a movie together, so my advice to Ice Cube and Charlie Day… put your hands down and treat us to another movie. Or else… I’ll meet you both… at 3 o’clock!

Darryl KingDarryl King is a video director, film writer and avid Marvel/DC comic book/movie lover. Check out his reviews of Sausage Party and The Boss right here on MMT.

GIVEAWAY: advanced screening of FIST FIGHT on Thursday, February 9 (Philly, PA)

Fist Fight

Happy Super Bowl Sunday MMT Fam! We have a special “subscribers only” giveaway today! MMT has acquired passes for the February 9th Philly screening of the upcoming comedy FIST FIGHT – starring Ice Cube and Charlie Day as high school teachers prepared to solve their differences the hard way.

On the last day of the year, mild-mannered high school English teacher Andy Campbell (Day) is trying his best to keep it together amidst senior pranks, a dysfunctional administration and budget cuts that put jobs on the line. But things go from bad to worse when he accidentally crosses his much tougher and deeply feared colleague, Ron Strickland (Ice Cube), who challenges Campbell to an old-fashioned throwdown after school.  News of the fight spreads like wildfire and ends up becoming the very thing this school, and Campbell, needed.

To put your name in the hat for an admit-two pass, you must be subscribed to this website and send an email to contests@musicmoviesthoughts.com with the subject line “Fight” and your full name in the body (please do not respond to the newsletter email, as this only leaves a comment on the post and winners are not selected from the comments). Twenty winners will be selected at random and notified on Tuesday, February 7. And remember, MMT Facebook followers always double their chances of winning – so like our page here!

You can watch the trailer below and get additional information about FIST FIGHT at the official website here. The film opens in theaters everywhere on February 17.

 

MMT Quick Review: BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT

Barbershop: The Next Cut

14 years ago, we met Calvin Palmer (Ice Cube), Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), Terri Jones (Eve) and the rest of the eclectic crew in the original Barbershop film – where Calvin struggled with his desire to overcome financial burdens by selling the south side Chicago business his grandfather started, until he realized how vital the shop was to the community and the people who regularly gathered and worked. Two years later brought Barbershop 2, with Calvin and the barbershop staff facing gentrification and development issues in the neighborhood. And now Ice Cube and several original cast members – including the aforementioned, Sean Patrick Thomas, Anthony Anderson, and Deon Cole – and a few newcomers (Common, Regina Hall, Nicki Minaj) are back in the latest installment BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT.

In this third film, directed by Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man Holiday) and co-written by Kenya Barris (Black*ish) & Tracy Oliver (Survivor’s Remorse), the audience finds Calvin once again contemplating selling the shop – but for a more selfless reason this go-round, as his need to keep his teenage son safe in a community impacted by gang violence has become increasingly difficult. The film explores this timely and socially relevant theme, with a few other storylines, the usual amount of humor, and a few tense and serious moments that allude to violence, but are still very appropriate for mature pre-teens & up (it has a PG-13 rating, so use your discretion).

A few weeks back, I spoke with stars Ice Cube and Deon Cole regarding the film. When I asked Cole to share his experience (Black*ish) and thoughts on Barris as storyteller he replied,

“His writing is wholesome, but real and necessary. And he brings that realness to any project he does without beating people over the head – but where they feel, ‘Yeah this actually happens.’ As soon as I knew he was writing, and with Cube and Malcolm D. Lee attached, I prayed every night to be a part of it.”

And viewing this film, the audience is certainly not “beat over the head” but given a look into a very real issue facing communities across the country, with much-needed humor interspersed – and without a doubt it gets barbershop real (watch out for the R. Kelly and Cosby jokes!) with the comedic styling of Cedric the Entertainer, Anthony Anderson, Deon Cole, Lamorne Morris and J.B. Smoove.

There are several things I loved about this film, from the positive display of fatherhood (and how to handle disagreements, with Common and Ice Cube’s characters) to a perfectly cast cameo/appearance by Jamal Woolard – who played the lead in Notorious – as gang leader Marquis. And I always enjoy watching young actor Michael Rainey Jr., who starred with Common in the Sheldon Candis film LUV (see MMT review here) and who currently plays Ghost and Tasha’s son Tariq on the hit show Power.

My only complaint is I would have loved to see Calvin’s wife Jennifer, portrayed by Jazsmin Lewis who’s been in all three films, given more screen time. I think she deserves a little more than a bit part.

But, it was a welcome addition to see Regina Hall whose character (Angie) merged her beauty salon with Calvin’s shop to help them both financially – which brings a completely new dynamic, men vs. women, on most debates inside the shop. Add into this mix a possible love triangle – Eve, Common, Nicki Minaj – and I’d say this movie offers something for everyone’s enjoyment.

Considering MMT gave three opportunities to advance screen, I’m hoping many of the Philly area fam can chime in on this one! What were your thoughts on the film? Who attended the screening with the special appearance by Ice Cube and Deon Cole?

BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT opens nationwide today April 15. And you can check out what Ice Cube told me about Cedric the Entertainer’s warning to the new cast members in my Examiner article here. 🙂

Until next thought, Thomasena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY: advanced screenings for BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT Monday, April 11 (Philly, PA)

Barbershop The Next Cut

Alright MMT Fam, the last time I posted a special “Girls Night Out” advanced screening, the men were all in their feelings! LOL, so this time I have a compromise! We are giving away two opportunities to see BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT next Monday night at two separate Philly locations.

The first location is at the United Artists Riverview – and this is the “Girls Night Out” only venue. In addition to the screening, the 50 winners selected are also invited to attend a Happy Hour at Warmdaddy’s (same plaza location) with light refreshments (wine and cheeses).

The second location will be at The Pearl Theater near Temple’s campus – and I will select 25 male winners to make up for the first! Sorry fellas, they’re not feeding you! 😉

So, who wants to put their name in the hat? You must be a musicmoviesthoughts.com subscriber and send an email with the subject line “Next Cut” and your full name in the body to contests@musicmoviesthoughts.com. Winners will be selected randomly and notified on Sunday, April 10.

You can get additional information about BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT at the official website here, and watch the below trailer to get a preview.

The film opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, April 15.

Good Luck Family! Thomasena

PS – if you haven’t had a chance, check out my Examiner interview with stars Ice Cube and Deon Cole here! I’ll give my review next week, so stay tuned. Until next thought!

GIVEAWAY: advanced screening of Barbershop: The Next Cut Wednesday, 3/23 (Philly, PA)

barbershop

We’re excited about this one family! MMT is giving away 25-admit two passes to Wednesday’s Philly red-carpet première of BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT starring Ice Cube, Cedric The Entertainer, Regina Hall, Common, Sean Patrick Thomas, Anthony Anderson, Jaszmine Lewis, JB Smoove and Nicki Minaj. And guess what? Actor/rapper/producer Ice Cube will be in attendance at the Philly première!

To put your name in the hat, send an email with the subject line “Next Cut” and your full name in the body to thinkmusicmovies@gmail.com. This contest is open to website subscribers only. All winners will be selected at random and notified on Monday, March 21.

Watch the trailer below and get additional information at the film’s official website here. BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT opens in theaters nationwide on April 15.

Good luck family!

 

 

GIVEAWAY: 2nd chance at STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON Blu-ray/DVD Director’s cut

Straight Outta Compton (photo: Universal Pictures)

Happy Tuesday MMT Fam! So, I held off on announcing last week’s winner for the STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON DVD because I received notice, but needed to confirm, that we can actually give away ten Blu-ray/DVDs courtesy of Universal Studios and Allied Integrated Marketing.

This contest is open to subscribers only. For a chance at winning, please send an email with your full name and address to thinkmusicmovies@gmail.com AND answer the following question: 1) Name three movies, since 2014, that former NWA member Ice Cube has produced. If you follow this site, that should be easy! Winners will be  selected at random and notified by Sunday, January 24.

STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON – the Director’s cut – is available everywhere today on Blu-Ray and DVD.  You can get additional information at the official website here.

Good Luck Family!

Until next thought, Thomasena

 

MMT QUICK REVIEW: RIDE ALONG 2

ride along 2

Happy Friday MMT Family! This is officially my first review of the new year – but we’ve had a couple of giveaways and quick looks, so I’ve been around! 🙂 I was able to screen RIDE ALONG 2 earlier this week – shout out to some of the subscribers I spoke with, including Carrie O’Berry, Sakinah Parks, Terry Williams and Ade Bolden. I also read what a few advanced screening winners shared either online or via email about the film, but here’s my take.

First of all, let me share that I’ve just recently started working back in a physical office last week – after working from home for 15 months – so Tuesday was day one of this week, and it was long. Needless to say after arriving to the theater from work, and dealing with a minor miscommunication issue with seating arrangements, I was in bad need of a good laugh. And on that note, the movie didn’t disappoint.  Although not as funny as the first, “Ride Along 2” still displays the awkward, but great chemistry between Kevin Hart and Ice Cube – and that brings several great jokes along with it.

However, the sequel reaches a little too hard in some areas to get laughs, and thus becomes a bit more “lampoonish” than even the first – and not in a good way – so it loss me a little there. But I must admit, “Ride Along 2” is one of those rare films where I actually laughed harder in the theater at one scene that was heavily promoted in the trailers. Oft times, when too much is shown, it takes away from the scene. Not so in this case! And you know I don’t do spoilers, so I’ll just say look out for the “first” bulletproof vest scene!

And there weren’t as many cool cameos like in the first – see my review on Ride Along for a few of those names – but we did have two very prominent supporting players in actor/comedians Sherri Shepard and Ken Jeong. And the oh-so-handsome Benjamin Bratt was a pleasure to view on-screen, even as the bad guy!

All-in-all, “Ride Along 2” offers several good laughs and, like the first, is a great date film and/or night out with the guys/girls type of comedy. If there is a third to be made, I hope it redeems itself in the vain of a Lethal Weapon 4. Rush Hour 2 rocked, but we really didn’t need that third one – so let’s not go out like that Universal!

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts when you see the film family, so please share them in the comments. 🙂

Until next thought, Thomasena

 

 

 

2nd GIVEAWAY: RIDE ALONG 2 on Tuesday, January 12 (Philly, PA)

Ride Along 2

Happy Saturday MMT Fam! Notices have been sent to our 10 reserved admit-two pass winners for next Tuesday’s screening of RIDE ALONG 2 here in Philly – so check those emails to see if you’ve lucked up! But in case you didn’t, here’s your chance to score an unreserved admit-two pass for Tuesday night!

Make sure you’re subscribed to this site (don’t forget to use the link in the confirmation email if you’re a recent sign up) and send an email with the subject line “2nd chance” to thinkmusicmovies@gmail.com, with your full name in the body.  Winners will be selected at random and notified on Monday, January 11.

Good luck Family!

Thomasena

MMT Quick Look and Giveaway: RIDE ALONG 2

Ride Along 2 (photo: Universal)

Back with the follow-up to last year’s hit comedy and an MMT faveRIDE ALONG, Kevin Hart and Ice Cube are sure to pack the theaters again when RIDE ALONG 2 opens everywhere next Friday. Check out this hilarious ride-along the duo took with CONAN host Conan O’Brien and his intern, Diana Change, as the three “prepare” her for a driver’s license exam (caution: R-rated and NSFW)!

Thought that was funny? Well you know the movie is going to take things to the next level! And guess who has 10 pair of reserved passes to next Tuesday’s advance screening here in Philly?

Now you know the rules, we save reserve seats to offer to our most active followers – those who comment, share and interact with us on Facebook and/or Twitter! If that’s you, send an email to thinkmusicmovies@gmail.com with the subject line “Ride” and your full name in the body. Ten winners will be selected and notified by Sunday, January 10.

Check out the trailer and read the synopsis to RIDE ALONG 2 below, and get additional information at the official website here.

Good Luck!

RIDE ALONG 2 synopsis

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube lead the returning lineup of Ride Along 2, the sequel to the blockbuster action-comedy that gave us the year’s most popular comedy duo.  They are joined in the film by Ride Along co-stars Bruce McGill and Tika Sumpter, as well as those new to the series, including Ken Jeong, Benjamin Bratt and Olivia Munn.

The behind-the-scenes team also returning for the next chapter are director Tim Story, as well as Cube’s fellow producers —Will Packer, Matt Alvarez and Larry Brezner.

CAST
Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Ken Jeong, Benjamin Bratt, Olivia Munn, Bruce McGill, Tika Sumpter.

Directed by: Tim Story
Written by: Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi
Based on Characters Created by: Greg Coolidge
Produced by: Will Packer, Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez, Larry Brezner
Executive Producers: Nicolas Stern, Ron Muhammad,
Scott Bernstein, Chris Bender, JC Spink

Why “Straight Outta Compton’s” Success Could Be a Benchmark for Change (guest contributor Rel Dowdell)

Straight Outta Compton (photo: Universal)

With the NWA biopic “Straight Outta Compton” making a whopping $56 million plus this weekend at the box office and leaving every other film in the dust, many, especially industry insiders, are shocked. I, honestly, was not. The diverse lives of African-Americans have appeal to many all across the world, especially when presented with top flight studio marketing and support. In fact, one may be shocked to know how many others that are not of African-American descent can relate to the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of the African-American life. Our lives often times share a universal thread. Hopefully, some of the aspects of “Straight Outta Compton” will be relatable to all. Here are a few things that I believe should be noted.

One, I hope the film enlightens America to the ongoing problems with police and how minorities are treated by them, which builds an angst and chasm that is very hard to bridge and heal. I hope that police officers can see how much damage has been done towards my generation since the Rodney King years and how it needs to be assuaged. I have a personal story to share. Years ago when I was living on Girard Avenue in Philadelphia, I was working late teaching as a professor of English at Community College of Philadelphia. I noticed on my way home that a police car was following me for a good while. I thought when I got home that the police officer was going to drive past me seeing that I had parked my car in front of my apartment building. However, the misadventure was just beginning. The police officer pulled up right beside me and started blaring his lights and siren. He got out of the car and I could see he was a Caucasian male. It was even difficult to see that since his flashlight gave chase to my face as soon as he came around the front of his car all the way up to my driver’s window. He asked me why I pulled over and parked my car. I said I lived there. He said I did not, for he knows who all the residents were on that block. I said I was a college professor. He said that I wasn’t because I don’t fit the “description” of a college professor. He insisted that I was someone of “interest.” After a long while of his hollering and berating, neighbors in the area came out to see what was going on.

In “Straight Outta Compton,” when Ice Cube, MC Ren (my personal favorite lyricist in the group), and the rest of the group were harassed by the police outside of their studio, they actually behaved pretty responsibly and complied to the requests of the officers by getting on the ground face down. I, however, became too angry to comply with any requests. I argued back with the police officer tit for tat. After all of the neighbors came out confirming to the officer that I lived there, the officer finally backed off enough to ask me for my license and registration. After taking my ID back to his car and sitting there in his car for over an hour, he came back to my car, gave me back my info, said nothing, got back in his car, and drove off. I was livid. One of the neighbors, another young African-American male, came up to me and said the same police officer harassed him as well and was glad I held my ground. In “Straight Outta Compton,” the deft hip-hop musicians of NWA used their angst and rage against the police to record one of the signature songs. Since I am not a rapper or lyricist, I did something else consequential. I knew the Philadelphia Police Commissioner whose name was Sylvester Johnson because he came to one of my film’s screenings. I called him the next day, met him in his office, told my story, called the other brother who came up to me as a witness, and got that police officer transferred somewhere else (you know I recorded the cop’s badge number). It is time for the mistreatment of law-abiding African-American males by law enforcement to cease. Racism cannot be tolerated on any level. Police serve an invaluable role in society, and they are most certainly needed. There is no need to mitigate the important stance that they have by continuously racially profiling, harassing, and even killing, African-American males for no reason. Whether you’re a hip hop artist, banker, pastor, Democrat, Republican, or educator, no one is above being harassed by the police. The West Coast has NWA’s iconic song. The East Coast has its own iconic song by another gold standard artist in KRS-ONE with “Black Cop.” It is good to see that there are those who are venting their frustrations creatively instead of otherwise. For that, America should be thankful.

Additionally, the film also shows that any group, no matter how noble its intent, can be disbanded by outside forces if unity is not the foremost standard for the group. This rule goes for any team, organization, society, or even among friends. The bond you create can be destroyed or infiltrated by a shrewd and cunning outsider if you let it happen. In the film, Suge Knight and Jerry Heller led to the untimely demise of NWA when their success was at its peak with different tactics. With you, me, or anyone else, it could be anyone who does this to you and those within your circle. The members of NWA are interchangeable with any members of your own circle. Watch the film and you will see commonalities with them and those you have associated with. Protect your friendship and trust with others with strength and prayer. Know the signs of those who want to be in your position and create confusion and chaos within your infrastructure.

In the end, I hope and pray that the success of “Straight Outta Compton” does more than just entertain on the big screen. I hope it sparks enlightenment and change on the big screen of life. I hope others, especially African-Americans in Hollywood, get behind other projects and get them made. For those with the clout, this means you. There’s room for everyone to succeed. If you help someone else make a successful project, guess what? You will benefit the most. Everyone – in every race – needs to learn to send the elevator back down to others in order to help lift others up.

Big shout out to Thomasena Farrar for allowing me to contribute my thoughts on this film as well as giving me the opportunity to see “Straight Outta Compton” weeks before its release – in a preview with the director F. Gary Gray, Ice Cube, Ice Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson, Jr., and Jason Mitchell.

Rel Dowdell

Rel Dowdell is an acclaimed screenwriter, director, producer, and professor – who also happens to be an avid movie lover and oral expert on Black film. His second feature film, Changing the Game, was one of 2012’s highest rated African-American dramas and is 83% fresh on the popular movie critic site Rotten Tomatoes. Changing the Game is currently airing this month on Fuse TV – click here to check local schedule listings. Click here to read Rel’s review of the film “Straight Outta Compton.”