Studios seem to favor comedies driven more by concept than by personal narratives or real feelings. Dad vs. Stepdad! Frat vs. Family! Two teachers, parking lot, 3 pm! Fist Fight‘s logline is succinct and easy to put on a poster, and while it would’ve been nice to make the marketers work a little harder, to have a story that was more about character and less about concept, even failing that, someone should’ve realized that this concept doesn’t give anyone much to do. The dad and the stepdad, the frat and the family, they at least had an escalating series of conflicts. Here we’re just waiting for one, and it gets boring fast. And thus we end up with 90 minutes of manic banter about a nothing plot.
Day plays Mr. Campbell, an English teacher on the last day of school, a responsible nice guy who needs to loosen up and blah blah blah. You know he’s the Nice Guy Who Needs To Loosen Up because he wears a suit and tie and talks about responsibility. Which, by the way, is about the last thing anyone wants to watch Charlie Day do. I know, I know, we should let him evolve and grow as an actor and stuff but come on, he’s the wild card! He’s the guy who catches a cat in the wall! Why make him play the stick-in-the-mud?
We also know by the laws of lazy movie math that since it stars the spineless wimp, the story will ultimately be resolved when he punches out his proverbial Biff, finally showing some backbone, thus gaining back the respect of the requisite preposterously too-attractive-for-him wife (Joanna Garcia Swisher) and preteen daughter. The latter has Mr. Campbell scheduled to perform with her at her middle school talent show, which might be this movie’s most contrived plot point, and that would really be saying something. Who has a talent show on the last day of school? Even accepting that, what middle school kid includes a parent in their talent show act? It’s the most yadda of yadda yaddas, the equivalent of having your rom-com love interest declare, apropos of nothing, “Oh, and don’t forget, I have to run through an airport at 2:30 today.”
Guys, stop. The talent show scene was already the worst part of About A Boy and Crazy Stupid Love.