Night School (2018 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Malcolm D. Lee|
|Music by||David Newman|
|Edited by||Paul Millspaugh|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$103.1 million|
Night School is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Malcolm D. Lee and starring Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Rob Riggle, Romany Malco, Taran Killam, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Al Madrigal, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Keith David, Anne Winters, Fat Joe, Ben Schwartz, Yvonne Orji, and Bresha Webb. Hart also produces the film alongside Will Packer, as well as co-wrote the script. The story follows a group of adults who set out to earn their GEDs.
In 2001, high school student Teddy Walker drops out of school when he finds himself unable to concentrate during a crucial test.
Years later, in 2018, he works as a barbecue grill salesman while dating a wealthy woman named Lisa, having developed a careful financial strategy that allows him to maintain the illusion that he is better off than he actually is. However, his life falls apart just as he learns that he is going to inherit control of the store when the current manager retires. As he proposes to Lisa in the shop, Teddy accidentally triggers an explosion when a champagne cork pops open a gas tank, with the manager taking the insurance from the explosion and promptly moving away to Florida.
Now jobless, Teddy learns from his best friend Marvin that he could theoretically get a job at Marvin's financial investment firm, but it requires him to have a GED. Teddy goes to his old high school in the belief that he can just charm the new principal into giving him the relevant qualification, but this plan is ruined from the start with the discovery that the principal is Stewart, whom Teddy bullied when he was at school. Fortunately, Teddy is able to make arrangements to attend night school that semester taught by the unorthodox Carrie, but finds himself still frustrated by his old concentration issues. At the same time, he claims to Lisa that he has already got the job working for Marvin, while secretly working at a local fast food restaurant to give himself some financial support.
As the rest of the class struggle to cope, Teddy convinces them to join him in stealing the test answers. When Carrie realizes what happened, Teddy is expelled from night school after he takes the blame. When he returns to make a genuine appeal to Carrie that he wants to do better, she agrees to take Teddy back to night school if he gets tested for learning disabilities, allowing them to determine that he suffers from dyslexia, dyscalculia, and various processing issues. Carrie is able to devise new systems to help Teddy cope and he soon settles into the night school while genuinely befriending his classmates.
With their last class on the night of the senior prom, Teddy suggests that the night school students attend the prom themselves. In the process, he is confronted by Lisa who Stewart brought to the school that night under the pretense of wanting corporate sponsorship to improve the school. Hurt at the revelation that Teddy was lying to her, Lisa breaks up with him, prompting a devastated Teddy to give up on night school and the GED. However, he is subsequently visited by Carrie and Stewart with the latter apologizing to Teddy as he realizes that he crossed too many lines in his desire for revenge. Carrie convinces Teddy to return for the GED. Although Teddy does not pass the test with his classmates, he continues to persevere and completes the test after another four attempts.
At graduation that semester, Teddy makes a speech on behalf of the other night school students about how they all prove that second chances are possible, which is witnessed by Lisa. After the ceremony, Teddy apologizes to Lisa for lying to her and re-introduces himself. He asks her out and she accepts but he tells her she will have to pay for everything since he has no money. She responds affirmatively with "I figured" and "I got you".
- Kevin Hart as Teddy Walker, Denise's brother, Gerald and Gladys's son, who worked as the mascot of Christian Chicken and has concentration issues. Back in high school, he was a school bully and an arrogant popular jerk.
- Tiffany Haddish as Carrie, Teddy's unorthodox teacher.
- Taran Killam as Stewart, the school's strict principal, who was the school nerd that Teddy bullied when he was there.
- Ben Schwartz as Marvin, Teddy's best friend and an investment adviser who wants to give his pal a job but can't until Teddy passes his GED.
- Rob Riggle as Mackenzie, one of Teddy's classmates
- Megalyn Echikunwoke as Lisa, Teddy's fiancée, who doesn't know at first that Teddy is enrolled in the night school
- Romany Malco as Jaylen, one of Teddy's classmates.
- Al Madrigal as Luis, a waiter who is fired due to his reaction to Teddy's false claim, and ends up as one of his classmates.
- Anne Winters as Mila, a deadpan hipster from a wealthy family, whose parents force her to get her GED at the night-school class.
- Fat Joe as Bobby, an inmate and one of Teddy's classmates via the internet.
- Mary Lynn Rajskub as Theresa, who is a hardworking mom with several kids; she got pregnant in high school and is now trying to earn her GED.
- Keith David as Gerald Walker, Denise and Teddy's father and Gladys's husband.
- Owen Harn as Randy, Theresa's husband.
- Yvonne Orji as Maya, Lisa's friend.
- Bresha Webb as Denise Walker, Teddy's sister and Gerald and Gladys's daughter.
- Jeff Rose as Isaac, Teddy's boss at Christian Chicken.
- Donna Biscoe as Gladys Walker, Denise and Teddy's mother and Gerald's wife.
Night School grossed $77.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $25.8 million in other territories for a total worldwide gross of $103.1 million, against a production budget of $29 million.
In the United States and Canada, Night School was released alongside Smallfoot, Little Women and Hell Fest, and was projected to gross $25–31 million from 3,010 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $9.5 million on its first day, including $1.35 million from Thursday night previews, on par with Hart's Ride Along 2 ($1.26 million in 2016). It went on to debut to $28 million, finishing first domestically (although Smallfoot earned more worldwide) and marking the best opening weekend for a comedy in 2018. It made $12.5 million in its second weekend and $7.8 million in its third, finishing fourth and sixth, respectively.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 27% based on 134 reviews, with an average rating of 4.32/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Night School's funny stars and seemingly promising setup add up to a disappointingly scattershot comedy whose laughs are largely held in detention." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 43 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Variety's Owen Gleiberman said the film "wants to be a nasty sitcom but spends too much time playing it safe" and wrote, "Night School has a handful of laughs, but it's a bloated trifle that, at 111 minutes, overstays its welcome." Writing for IndieWire, David Elrich gave the film a "D" grade, saying "Kevin Hart can be funnier than he is in this joyless and interminable comedy, but he no longer seems interested in trying."
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