Go to high school. Graduate. Go to college. Graduate. Get a job. That’s the typical formula we’re told to follow.
But not everyone does.
Take Teddy Walker, for example. An underachieving student with learning disabilities, Teddy decides that high school isn’t for him. No one has given him a chance, so he’s not going to give them a chance either. He’ll show them that you don't have to graduate from high school or college to be successful.
Fast-forward 17 years, and Teddy is living the dream: He has a beautiful girlfriend who is way out of his league, a nice car and a dope house. Teddy has it all.
Yeah, you see, Teddy is living paycheck to paycheck. But his girlfriend doesn’t know that. Nor does she know that he’s really just a salesman at the local grill store.
One day, Teddy’s boss offers to hand him his family business. That would be a dream come true. Now Teddy can propose to his girlfriend and give her the lifestyle that he’s been falsely flashing before her for so long.
But right after he pops the question, his future gets blown to smithereens. Ouch.
Now Teddy must scramble to pay his bills and find a way to keep his empty wallet far from his fiancée. Which means that he’ll have to return to high school to get his GED. And while Teddy has mostly used big talk to wheedle his way through life up to this point, he’ll now have to work harder than ever to succeed—that is, if he can survive his night school teacher.
Teddy is generally happy, funny and determined—not to mention being sincerely dedicated to his fiancée, Lisa. He'll do almost anything to make her happy (though admittedly, that includes lying to her and others about his past mistakes). Still, even though Teddy doesn't always get things right, he usually admits his errors and keeps trying until he excels in those weak areas. Lisa evidently loves Teddy for who he is, not what he has. Teddy’s best friend, Marvin, likewise wants to see Teddy succeed.
The other night school students (Mackenzie, Theresea, Mila, Luis, Jaylen and others) also want to change their lives for the better. They are encouraged to pursue their dreams and to better themselves by their teacher, Carrie. She's a teacher who goes to the mat for her students, provided they are willing to learn and work hard. Carrie is the teacher that Teddy never had—someone who recognizes his learning disabilities and sees his potential.
The movie also encourages viewers to pursue their dreams, no matter how long they may have been dormant. It shows that it's possible to overcome the adversity and struggles of youth, and that it is unacceptable to give up on ourselves.
Lots of jokes are made about Christianity. Many revolve around Teddy's new workplace after he's fired from the grill store, a fast-food restaurant called Christian Chicken. The owner pulls his employees together to pray together throughout the day. More jokes are mined from the restaurant's “holy” atmosphere (where people shout “hallelujah” and “WWJD,” etc.).
Teddy says that “bettering yourself” is what being a Christian is all about. He also wears an oversized cross necklace and shouts, “I rebuke you.” Multiple people cross themselves. A man jokingly refers to himself as God.
Crude, suggestive and innapropriate dialogue fills this film, with characters constantly joking about sexual subjects such as condoms, sadomasochism, STDs, sperm, pubic hair, pornography and genitalia (both female and male), among other things. Men also comment about women’s bodies, and they refer to groping and breasts.
Carrie tells Teddy that she is a lesbian. (One scene shows the teacher nod suggestively toward Teddy’s fiancée, who's clad in lingerie.) Men and women dance with one another and twerk. A crude strip club sign features the silhouette of a woman's body. A slew of jokes reference both a man and woman wearing a thong. (In one of those verbal gags, Teddy says, “Any pastor who puts on a thong ain’t right with God.”)
A married woman who is in a “loveless marriage” tries to flirt with men and makes graphically suggestive advances toward them. (A few men verbally reciprocate her interest, while one man declines.) She later tells her husband she wants to have “really weird sex, like Fifty Shades of Grey sex.” Her husband says he wants to be her porn star. She also mentions that she got pregnant in high school before she and her husband were married.
A few crude jokes are made about a pastor and his sex life. We hear references to men being sexually abused in prison. A man tells a group of people that he “manscapes.” A woman is called a "ho" and a "heffer."
Teddy’s fiancée, Lisa, lies in bed in sheer lingerie. We see her bare backside and cleavage. She also texts Teddy a revealing picture of herself, and the two of them talk about having sex. Elsewhere, women wear revealing outfits. A man lifts up his shirt, revealing a third nipple. Men and women kiss.
Mackenzie “chokes out” a janitor until he passes out, then asks if he should “chop, burn and bury” the body. Later, Mackenzie attempts to jump from a high building, but dislocates his shoulder (adding to other injuries he already has).
Carrie repeatedly punches Teddy in a boxing ring, hoping that her aggression will force him to focus. Later, she spanks him with a belt for giving up on himself.
A man makes various death threats. A building explodes, and a guy gets thrown in the air from the force of the fireball. A prison fight erupts, and we see a man stabbed and beaten (though things never get particularly graphic here). Teddy crashes his car. Someone jokingly asks if he was abused as a child.
Crude or Profane Language
God’s name is misused more 20 times, often paired with “d--n” and “d--mit.” Jesus name is misused twice. The f-word is heard once, and the s-word more than 30 times. “A--” is used nearly 20 times and other profanities include multiple uses of “h---,” “b--ch,” d--k,” “d--n,” “a--hole” and “n-gga.”
A woman calls a man a “douchebag” and someone says “p-ss.” One Spanish profanity is used. Teddy is often made to feel inadequate and is labeled “stupid” many times. He retaliates by calling someone else a “freak of nature.”
Drug and Alcohol Content
People drink hard liquor, wine and champagne. A song includes lyrics about alcohol and getting drunk. A young woman makes a comment about having “Molly” with her. A guy asks, “Are you on crack?” Mackenzie tells his fellow classmates that cigarettes are “currency” in prison.
Other Negative Elements
Teddy is viewed by many as incompetent, although his struggles are directly related to his learning disabilities. He often feels inadequate, especially when compared to his overacheiving twin sister. Teddy never received proper help in high school and, as a result, was disruptive and rude (often bullying others to compensate for his insecurities and for his lack of understanding).
Teddy’s father talks about failing as a father, and Teddy tells stories of other degrading comments his father has made about him (though they're all played for laughs). When Teddy meets and falls in love with Lisa, he lies about his past because he feels unworthy of her affection. Teddy makes it clear he doesn't like Lisa’s friend Maya, and he insults her repeatedly.
A group of students steal answers to an exam. A man vomits on another guy's face. A few jokes are made about flatulence, and a woman passes gas near a man’s face. A guy wipes his ear wax on a computer. Teddy makes a few jokes about race. Luis tells everyone that he illegally crossed the border into the United States. A man jokes about a political figure. Someone jokes about punching a crying baby in the face. There is a reference to gambling in Las Vegas, and another about the supposed influence of the Illuminati.
If you’ve ever seen anything with Kevin Hart or Tiffany Haddish, then you know what to expect with Night School.
The movie, which plays for laughs at every turn, is sometimes genuinely funny. On the plus side, it tries to inspire, reminding us that it’s never too late to achieve our dreams. And it also shows the importance of great educators, as well as what students can achieve when they work hard and when friends and family believe in them.
If only we could stop right there. But … we can't.
For all this film's inspirational aspirations, its excessive language, a myriad of crude jokes and other problematic content make for a long night at Night School.