MOVIE BUFF-ET: Unfulfilled promise flattens ‘Night School’

Universal Pictures

How can you go wrong with a movie starring Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish?

That was my thought walking into the theater to see “Night School.”

My thought coming out was, “Oh, that’s how.”

New In Local Theaters

  • Night School (PG-13) 1hr. 51 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne, Malco Springdale, Bentonville Skylight)
    » Watch trailer
  • Smallfoot (PG) 1 hr. 35 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Bentonville Skylight)
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  • Hell Fest (R) 1 hr. 29 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle)
    » Watch trailer
  • Little Women (PG-13) 1 hr. 52 min.
    (Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne)
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  • Love, Gilda (NR) 1 hr. 28 min.
    (Bentonville Skylight)
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There’s nothing worse than wasted potential, and that’s the best way to sum up “Night School.” There’s just too many funny people in the movie for it to be so blah.

With supporting help from the likes of Rob Riggle, Romany Malco, and Taran Killiam, the film should have drawn more laughs, but the movie is kind of a mess that rips apart at the seams.

The plot’s fairly simple and promising with the story following the plight and progress of a group of adults seeking to earn their GEDs. Hart, formerly an appliance salesman, is one of them with Haddish serving as their no-nonsense, night school instructor.

That sounds like a set-up for comedy gold, and in the capable hands of Malcolm D. Lee, who directed Haddish’s star-turning role in “Girls Trip,” I was expecting a great pay off, but wound up feeling cheated.

The film’s key issue is that neither Hart nor Haddish have the proper straight-man chops to put the other comic over. The end result is that neither shine. Haddish takes the straight role most of the time, and while she isn’t horrible, there is no real comedic connection between her and Hart. Hart’s frantic style is like a super ball without walls to bounce off, while Haddish seems handcuffed by the material.

The two actors seem like they are competing with each other rather than co-starring together. The result is a mess that draws some laughs, but not nearly enough of them considering the talent involved. Ultimately the movie felt flat and unappealing.

(PG-13) 1hr. 51 min.
Grade: D+

Classic Corner

With the odd month of October knocking on the door, it’s time to turn our attention to the dark side. No, not Darth Vader and the Sith, but rather some spooky old films to set the proper tone for tricks and treats.

Halloween is just over a month away, but it’s never too early to get your spook on, and as always there’s plenty of frightfully fun horror flicks airing on the tube this month.

On Oct. 1 Freeform’s “31 Nights of Halloween” and SyFy’s “31 Days of Halloween” kicks the scares into high gear, but if you are truly looking for classic horror films and the stars that go bump in the night, look no further than Turner Classic Movies.

TCM will be slipping more monster, sci-fi, and horror programming into its schedule than usual this month, but Wednesdays are the nights to take special notice as the channel honors five of Hollywood’s greatest boogeymen.

OCT. 3 — LON CHANEY: Phantom of the Opera

The silent horror performances of Lon Chaney are on display Oct. 3. Known as the Man of 1,000 Faces, Chaney crafted his own makeup designs for the odd and horrific characters he played during Hollywood’s silent era. Silent films can be difficult to get into a first, but once you watch Chaney, the son of deaf and mute parents, perform, you can see why he was one of the biggest stars the era. “The Phantom of the Opera,” which airs at 8 p.m. (CT) is probably his best known film today, but I’d also suggest watching “The Unholy Three” at 1:15 a.m (CT) for arguably his best performance. Both are worth checking out.

OCT. 10 —CHRISTOPHER LEE: The Horror of Dracula

Christopher Lee takes center stage on Oct. 10. It’s not too dramatic to say that Lee’s performance as the King of the Vampires in 1958’s “Horror of Dracula” helped revive the Gothic horror genre on the big screen. Until this Technicolor gem was released, the majority of horror films were still filmed in black and white. With the color came the blood, and with the blood came Hammer Films added a more palpable sex appeal. Lee’s Dracula was perfect for the time. The imposing 6-foot-5, former British spy cut a dynamic figure in his long, black cape, and his raw, animalistic performance as the blood-sucking Count was a perfect reboot of Bram Stoker’s icon of evil. The “Horror of Dracula” plays at 9 p.m. (CT) followed by “Dracula Prince of Darkness.”

OCT. 17 — BORIS KARLOFF: The Old Dark House

Boris Karloff became famous for starring as the Frankenstein’s monster in the first three Universal Studios films about Mary Shelly’s ubiquitous creature, which happens to celebrate its 200th anniversary this year. However, Karloff’s other horror flicks are on display this night. “The Old Dark House” was directed by James Whale, who handpicked Karloff to play his most famous role after Bela Lugosi turned it down. “The Old Dark House” could seem cliched to modern audiences but in actuality, the 1932 film set the conventions for what we now expect in haunted house movies. It air at 7 p.m. (CT.)

Oct. 24 — BELA LUGOSI: White Zombie

Bela Lugosi will forever be known as the iconic Dracula of the silver screen, but Lugosi played in scores of films. Some were interesting and fun, while others were not. One of his most interesting starring roles came in 1932’s “White Zombie.” Lugosi played the enigmatic Murder Legendre, a sugar-mill owner in Haiti, who uses voodoo to control a zombie workforce on his plantation. Looking even more wicked than he did in Dracula, Lugosi is hypnotic as the voodoo master. His portrayal of Legendre hews very close to his portray of Dracula with his menacing stare and odd hand motions in full effect. Considering the decades-long fascination with zombies, why not catch the father of all zombie films at 7 p.m. (CT).

Oct. 31 — VINCENT PRICE: House of Wax

We know Vincent Price as one of the masters of cinematic horror, but for the first couple of decades of his long career, Price only dabbled in horror pictures. He more often played the second and third leads in period pieces of the 1930s and ’40s. However, with the debut of “House of Wax” in 1953, Price found his home in horror and would continue to headline all manner of creepfests for the next two decades. Watch a horror star being born at 7 p.m. (CT).

See for a complete list of the horror films the channel will be featuring on Wednesdays in October.