Review by Sean Boelman
On paper, Chick Fight sounds like a bad idea: a movie about female empowerment written by a guy, directed by a guy, and featuring Alec Baldwin in a prominent supporting role. Yet despite the odds working against it, this is a surprisingly fun comedy that is more heartwarming than it has any right to be.
The film follows a woman who, facing rock bottom in her life, is introduced by her friend to an underground fight club for women where she finds herself in more ways than she expected. It’s pretty low-brow, and the story is a pretty basic underdog set-up, but there’s something irresistibly charming about it nevertheless.
One of the things that helps this movie stand out is that it doesn’t use the characters as the butt of its jokes. The audience feels like they are laughing with the characters, not at them. Sure, the result isn’t laugh-out-loud hilarious, but there are enough witty one-liners and physical gags for the film to move along at a consistently nice pace.
The movie also puts a lot of effort into building the dynamic between the central characters, and this is part of why it works so well. The rivalry that forms between the protagonist and the bratty young diva is a bit conventional, but writer Joseph Downey wisely focuses more on the friendship between the protagonist and her best friend, which will really endear the audience to the story.
Admittedly, the film could have gone into more depth about the movie’s messages about mental health. And at times, it does feel slightly gazey as it shows women punching each other. But for the most part, it’s an unexpectedly wholesome film about people finding themselves through an unorthodox means of self-expression.
Malin Akerman is starting to be typecast as the straight-faced comedy protagonist who has to loosen up, but she pulls off the role well, so there’s not a whole lot to complain about in this case. In the supporting cast, Alec Baldwin feels out-of-place (and ultimately unnecessary by the end), Bella Thorne is over-the-top, and Kevin Connolly is charming. Dulcé Sloan is the real standout, though, giving the funniest performance of the bunch.
Director Paul Leyden shoots the movie pretty effectively. The boxing matches are solid, composed and edited in a way that feels like they are taken from a legitimate sports movie and not a comedy. That said, the area in which the film is lacking are the training sequences, which are sadly bland and uninspired.
Chick Fight probably shouldn’t have been good, but it’s a nice little comedy. There are enough laughs, fight scenes, and heartfelt moments to make it one of the more pleasant mainstream comedies in recent memory.
Chick Fight hits VOD on November 13.