Bar Fight! manages the impressive feat of being entirely unfunny for the whole of its runtime.
The graveyard of sitcom stars who attempted a move to movies is a crowded one. For every Jennifer Aniston and Tom Hanks, there’s a Matt LeBlanc and Shelley Long. Whether it’s a lack of actual talent beyond cueing a laugh track or a failure to pick the right projects, it seems the jump to film is too wide for many to make. Many brilliant sitcom actors end up drowning in D-list movie waters while their lesser co-stars (looking at you, Chris Pratt) somehow gain commercial success. It, unfortunately, makes sense then that Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Melissa Fumero and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend lead Rachel Bloom would end up in Bar Fight!, a thoroughly underwhelming and predictable film from writer-director Jim Mahoney.
Nina (Fumero) and Allen (Luka Jones) have mastered the amicable breakup. After five years together, they’ve simply decided that things aren’t working and so part ways. After their conscious uncoupling, they split their material possessions and move on. All is well until Allen and Nina arrive at “their” bar on the same night, and both refuse to give the watering hole to the other. The result is a bizarre competition to win the rights to the bar. With their besties by their sides — Julian Gant for Allen and Bloom for Nina — they play games like blindfolded darts and human bowling in an attempt to ban the other from the premises for good. Allen ultimately wins by getting more phone numbers than Nina before closing time, but obviously, that’s not the end of their story. Also featuring a bizarre cast of characters, including Dot-Marie Jones as a grumpy cook and David Carzell as a bouncer, Bar Fight! somehow accomplishes the nearly impossible task of remaining entirely unfunny for its whole 84-minute runtime.
To their credit, Fumero and Bloom do their best with the (terrible) cards they’ve been dealt, and Jones manages to succeed in being the definition of “meh,” which seems to be the point of his character. Mahoney also sets the packed supporting cast up for failure, writing multiple one-note characters who are given nothing to chew on. Even those who have an ounce of personality are reduced to dull caricatures of real people, like the manager who is so timid he can’t even stop a patron from stealing from the bar, or the woman interviewing for a bartender position who exists solely as a walking “Florida people, am I right?” joke (but also, Florida people, am I right?). Throw in an ending that writes off the film’s first half and a Twisted Sister Christmas song, and you’ve got a movie that even a sitcom extra shouldn’t have to participate in. If Bar Fight! is any indication, Fumero and Bloom are digging their graves in the sitcom cemetery. One hopes they find some project soon to keep them in the land of the living.