Posted February 28, 2011 by Marcia Degia - Publisher in Films
 
 

Bad Teacher


Cameron Diaz has been having a bit of a dry spell in the comedy arena of late. The laugh-free Knight And Day was followed up with an almost non-existent role as

Cameron
Diaz has been having a bit of a dry spell in the comedy arena of late. The laugh-free Knight And Day was followed up with an almost non-existent role as Seth Rogen’s
love interest in The Green Hornet – both roles
trading on her looks rather than her ability to actually generate any laughs.

Bad
Teacher
gives her the opportunity to redress the
balance in a lead role rather than supporting eye-candy but the result is
uneven, the jokes spread too thinly to effectively hail a return to comedy
form.

Diaz
plays Elizabeth Halsey, a foul-mouthed gold digger forced to return to a life
as a high-school teacher when her fiancée ditches her after he gets wise to her
plan to milk him for his hard-earned cash. She’s predictably irresponsible: turning up hung-over,
sleeping through class and assigning movies instead of teaching the required
texts.

She’s
spurred into action however when she spies sappy new supply teacher Scott
(Justin Timberlake) who she learns is the heir to a vast fortune. Convinced that she’ll have a much
better chance with him if she gets breast implants, she attempts to win the
yearly bonus for the highest-rated class but without the ability to actually
teach, she instead seduces the local examiner in an attempt to steal the year’s
SAT papers. Meanwhile, she’s
brushing off the advances of well-meaning, sarcastic PE teacher Russell (Jason
Segel) and fighting off competition from squawking puritan Amy (Lucy Punch)

The
trailer promised a laugh-a-minute hit – Diaz as a sassy, over-sexed
manipulative cow. And, well, she
is, but Bad Teacher isn’t as funny or as fun as
it thinks it is. The laughs
are there but the chuckles which come thick and fast in a two and half minute
trailer are left shivering alone in the cold like abandoned children over the
course of 90 minutes.

The
supporting cast try hard but ultimately serve to be more irritating than
amusing. Lucy Punch trots out the
same overt loud-mouthed oddball schtick that she’s pulled in her last few
movies but worryingly seems to be steadily morphing into Catherine Tate – this
time replete with ginger hair and some of Tate’s more noticeable
mannerisms. With Tate herself
looking to make the move the jaunt to Hollywood shortly, there’s bound to be a
comedy cat-fight in the near future.

Her
character here is an insufferable goody two-shoes; the kind that strives
earnestly to make learning fun, while making all concerned want to bludgeon
themselves to death with a stapler than listen to another word.

Timberlake
is too drippy to really generate any significant laughs although a scene in
which he dry-humps Diaz will evince a smirk (if only because the two are real
life exes and it’s difficult not to imagine how awkward that must have been to
film).

This is
partly because as awful as Elizabeth is, her co-workers have to be insufferable
to make us root for her. It’s cool
vs. stuck up, rock ‘n’ roll vs. easy listening, Mötley Crüe vs. The Lighthouse Family.
In that respect, it’s successful; anyone that gets through Bad Teacher without wanting to drown Amy in a bucket deserves a medal but
Diaz’s character could have been more humorously sociopathic. There’s a persistent feeling that
punches were pulled, that depravity was curtailed at the last minute and for
the most part all that Bad Teacher manages is a
limp-wristed slap where it should have delivered a jaw-shattering punch.

Thank
goodness then for Jason Segel whose irreverent gym teacher manages to squeeze
more laughs out of his limited screen time (sample: “hold my ball sack”) than
Diaz manages in the rest of the movie but he’s a spicy garnish or an otherwise
bland pie.

Bad Teacher is faintly amusing, but promises much more than it delivers.


Marcia Degia - Publisher

 
Marcia Degia has worked in the media industry for more than 10 years. She was previously Acting Managing Editor of Homes and Gardens magazine, Publishing Editor at Macmillan Publishers and Editor of Pride Magazine. Marcia, who has a Masters degree in Screenwriting, has also been involved in many broadcast projects. Among other things, she was the devisor of the documentary series Secret Suburbia for Living TV.