Billed as a sports comedy, this decidedly unfunny film suffers from a severe lack of laughs and an excess of tired clichés.
Kevin James plays disillusioned biology high school teacher Scott Voss, who, in his glory days a decade ago was voted teacher of the year, but has since fallen into a mid-life slump. He snoozes in front of his class, has no inclination to teach his kids and fails in the romance department too as he unsuccessfully pursues hot school nurse Bella (Salma Hayek).
However, when the bad-guy principal (Greg Germann) announces cutbacks at the school which include the music programme, helmed by inspirational teacher Marty (Henry Winkler), Scott is spurred into action to raise $48,000 to save the day.
With limited choices at his disposal to drum up the funds, he decides to resurrect his days as a wrestler in high school and try his hand at mixed martial arts fighting, a lucrative sport which sees even losers at the highest level earning $10,000 a match.
His natural ability seems limited to taking savage bashings off his opponents in the cage, but Scott soon shows what he’s worth and gets his shot at the big time at the UFC.
It’s a textbook triumph over adversity tale, where the sheer determination of the underdog flies against all the odds, but it isn’t just the lack of originality that dooms this movie to failure, it’s the remarkably tame humour that falls flat as often as the protagonist lands on his face.
Despite Kevin James’ inherent likeability in the central role, which softens the blow of having to sit through all 105 minutes of grindingly predictable action, this film strains to eke more than a few smiles from the proceedings.
Also, the realistic fight sequences, which regularly see Scott battered into a disorientated, bloodied mess, are at odds with the tame, family-friendly humour and all-round feel-good factor this movie aims to bring.