Hidden deep within layers of ideas lifted wholesale from other, better movies, Chick Fight finds a sort of worthwhile message about how we take on fear. But it's work to find that.

First you've got to navigate your way through stale jokes about queer dads, aging, substance abuse and competitive assholes. And even though one wonders how Malin Akerman (Children's Hospital) keeps appearing in movies (mystery solved: she's a producer on this thing) or who Alec Baldwin pissed off to have to appear in this thing, or why, when the filmmakers had access to the hilarious Fortune Feimster and Dulcé Sloan, they only use them sparingly. One thing's for sure, though—you'll probably forget you ever saw this movie.

Akerman is Anna, a down-on-her-luck 40-something whose car gets repossessed, whose business is burned down from a weed-smoking accident sans insurance and whose father (Kevin Nash) is dabbling with a little late-in-life sexuality-spectrum surfing, which is sadly played for laughs. Oh, also, her mom died recently. Anna's drowning, basically, when her buddy Charleen (Sloan, a cop for some reason) introduces her to an underground women's fight club. The wisdom goes something like: If you face your fear of having the shit beaten out of you, everything else in life seems less terrifying.

Of course, Anna's no good at fighting, so she enlists the help of former trainer-turned–alcoholic (Baldwin) about whom endless rummy jokes are made. Yikes. But he Miyagis her into fighting shape to take on the big, bad Olivia (Bella Thorne), a fight club newcomer who thinks things should be more competitive than therapeutic.

Surprise! Anna gets good at punching through a montage, falls hard for the fight club doctor (Entourage douchebag Kevin Connolly), learns some things about herself along the way and avails herself of one of the more awkwardly implemented deus ex machina moments of all time just as we started to think all was lost. Uggggggh!

Even some kickass fight scenes can't ultimately save a middling-at-best movie. Really, too, it feels like they had most of a movie and settled on an ending the day before filming it. Anna wins (sorry for the spoiler, but what did you expect?)! She was the Mighty Duck all along! Or Daniel LaRusso? She was a Bad News Bear? Or wait…maybe she got her groove back?

+Fight scenes; one joke that was pretty OK
-Tired ideas; no actor seems pumped to be there

Chick Fight
Directed by Paul Leyden
With Akerman, Sloan, Feimster, Thorne and Baldwin
Amazon, R, 97 min.