It is a performances centric movie
It's easily one of the freshest, sharpest and most enjoyable films of this year.
The film never slows down or bores, plunging from one harrowing sequence to the next.
RELEASED IN 2011 and directed by Jake Kasdan, "Bad Teacher" is a dramedy about a slothful, inept middle school teacher in Illinois (Cameron Diaz) who hates her work, her pupils and her colleagues. She has no choice but to return to teaching after losing her sugar daddy and aspires to the lofty goal of getting breast implants. Lucy Punch plays her winsome rival while Justin Timberlake appears as a wealthy eligible teacher. Jason Segel plays the gym teacher who's interested in her while Phyllis Smith appears as her aged, overweight teacher pal. Do you remember the bad teacher at your school? Every school has at least one, usually more. I found "Bad Teacher" amusing from beginning to end and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. It helps that the characters are all well-defined & cast and that the story is absorbing. The soundtrack features some quality snippets by the likes of Judas Priest ("You've God Another Thing Coming" & "The Ripper"), Whitesnake ("Still of the Night") and Dio ("Rainbow in the Dark").NOTE: I saw the censored version, not the unrated one, which is likely gross. THE MOVIE RUNS 1 hour & 32 minutes and was shot in Southern Cal (Los Angeles & Santa Clarita) with exterior shots done in Illinois (Springfield & Lawndale). WRITERS: Gene Stupnitsky & Lee Eisenberg. ADDITIONAL CAST: John Michael Higgins is on hand as the principle and Thomas Lennon as a school official. GRADE: B+
R-rated comedies are now a very popular genre due to the success of mainly the Judd Apatow comedies (e.g. 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad). What once was a very popular style of film with unique comic genius sprouting it has become a little diluted, watered-down and it can be hard to distinguish between or remember them. In the past, we had a case of extremes with some movies of this kind doing really well at the box office (Horrible Bosses, Bridesmaids, Ted and Deadpool) to some doing only okay business (Fist Fight, The Nice Guys and The Boss). Bad Teacher was able to drum up that kind of business through the sex appeal of Cameron Diaz. Whether that translates into a good movie; you will have to decide for yourself.*Minor Spoilers Ahead* We begin the movie with middle-school teacher Elizabeth Hazley (Cameron Diaz) who is retiring after the finished school year. She is too young retire but she is more interested in sponging off her rich fiancée. The other teachers do not seem to be to upset about her departure because it is a widely held belief that Elizabeth is a horrible teacher. She has no relationship with her students and does not a care at all for their well being. After she gets home, her husband is at the door with her bags packed. It turns out he caught on just in time and he kicks her out of the house. After sulking in her apartment and after smoking some very potent weed she returns to school at the start of the year because of her lack of other options and is befriended by Lynn Davies (Phyllis Smith) who is more of a sweet sycophant who lets Elizabeth bully her around. Elizabeth decides that she needs to attract another wealthy man and to do this, she should have breast augmentation surgery. She is willing to lie, cheat and steal to achieve this but she is currently without the funding.She is immediately attracted to the rich, substitute teacher Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake) who is naïve to her plot and very nerdy to be honest and she also makes an enemy of Amy Squirrell (Lucy Punch) who is a very committed teacher but is also a type a control freak who is less than impressed by Elizabeth's teaching philosophies (e.g. having the students watch movies all class while she drinks and sleeps). Things do not go well for her off the start. Even through her manipulation she cannot interest Scott who is better suited for Amy and she cannot raise the money even though she steals from parents for "tutoring sessions." She also berates the kids and steals the money from their charity car wash. At the same time, she is having to resist the subtle advances of the gym teacher Russell Gettis (Jason Segel) who is very genuine and cool but he d does not fit her criteria for her ideal man. After this she hears from Principal Wally Snur (John Michael Higgins) about a bonus given to the teacher whose class finishes the highest on state test scores. With this information, Elizabeth changes her style on a dime and becomes a bullying authoritarian who is abusive to her students to try and get them to learn the material faster.Whether you will like this movie or not will come down to where you fall in terms of crass humour; the jokes are mainly done through extremely vulgar language and pratfalls and I found them to be really hit or miss. Cameron Diaz did make me laugh a few times but her language and character are so vulgar and nasty that it really turned me off. I don't care if she is hot, it's to the point where it would get her smacked. There was also very little arc to her character which disappointed me. I don't expect her to change completely but she only came to self-realization on a selective basis. Now on the flip side the acting was pretty good even though most of the characters were unrealistic. A lot of the character actors were solid including Smith and Higgins. They definitely made the most out of what they were given. Jason Segel had by far the easiest character to like but he really wasn't central to the plot at all. The writing was pretty lazy here and it really depends on your sense of humour. I fell somewhere in the middle. Some of the stuff worked, some of it didn't. I would say the jokes hit on a rate of 40/60. Now the plot did offer some twists and turns and I actually liked where they decided to go with the ending but it is by no means exceptional. It happens just to be one of the few things I did like about the movie.Now some of the performances weren't bad but my sheer dislike of their characters brought them down. I thought this was probably the weakest I've seen Justin Timberlake, he played Scott as a passive aggressive douche/wimp. Lucy Punch really did try as Amy but again the fact that her character turns out to be as bad as Elizabeth even though we're rooting for her off the start, ruins it.I'm split on this movie. I liked about 40% of it but I still keep coming back to the point that this movie hinges on Cameron Diaz and I just fell that she failed to carry the movie. Did she try? Yes but you have to make the audience care just a little bit which didn't happen. The movie did make me laugh several times though so it does earn a 6/10. I'm glad that Cameron is taking different roles though. This is a decent but ultimately forgettable summer comedy. I would recommend it only to die hard fans of the genre.
Bad Teacher is an aimless misfire of a comedy with few laughs, little plot and a cast of undefined and uninteresting characters. It's the kind of movie that you watch with bored disinterest as you wait for something interesting to develop and eventually find yourself laughing at something just to break the tension.And yet, nestled in this unholy dreck is a performance by Cameron Diaz that I admit made me smile. Diaz has always been the sunniest of performers, a happy-go-lucky beauty with a smile that's as warm and pleasing as a spring day. But more than that, she's a fearless comedienne in a way that many of her contemporaries are not. I always admire actors who aren't afraid to look like a jerk.In Bad Teacher she plays the jerk role for all it's worth. She plays Elizabeth Halsey, a shameless gold digger whose goal in life is to marry a bozo millionaire who will keep her in the lap of luxury for the rest of her days. She supplements her waiting period by working as a high school English teacher and, as the movie opens, is leaving the job to marry her fiancé. Unfortunately he – and his mother – break off the engagement, which means she has to return to the school and start all over again.What to do? She figures that the best way to land a man is to beef up her assets – a boob job! But she needs the cash, so she reluctantly returns to her teaching job where she will work until she gets the money. What follows is – or rather should be – just an exercise in bad behavior. She's got plenty of that, including getting through her classes by putting on inspirational teacher movies like Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds and eventually The Faculty while taking a nap at the desk.A clever plot element kicks in later that the most valuable and dedicated teacher will get an award at the end of the year which comes with a cash bonus. Ha-HA! Just the solution she needs. With that Liz throws herself into her job, and becomes strict and extremely demanding which trying to get her class through "To Kill a Mockingbird." That scene has some energy, but it goes nowhere. The whole movie is like that. Diaz is game, but the movie gives her nothing to work with.The supporting characters are all underwritten. The school principal (John Michael Higgins) is an aimless clown. The love interest (Justin Timberlake) is a clueless dolt. The happy-go-lucky rival teacher (Lucy Punch) is annoying. Diaz's brother (Noah Munck) is a coward. And the students are hardly in the movie at all. Notice that these characters are played by some really talented comedians, but they have nothing to do.There's a pointless love triangle in which Liz catches the eye of the Timberlake character while the gym teacher (Jason Segal) seems perfect for her. The Timberlake character is as dull as desert sand. Segal is really kind of charming here but he isn't given nearly enough to do. The movie presents scenes that seem to come out of nowhere and have no payoff. Abruptly a scene pops up with Diaz and Timberlake dry-humping while on a class fieldtrip. There is not set-up so you wonder if there was a scene that was cut out leading up to it. The point of the scene is to get Timberlake to break up with his girlfriend, but it's so poorly written that we just don't care. Watching the scene, you wonder if it wasn't originally written as a sex scene but then re-written to get a PG-13 rating.Watching the movie, I thought of Bad Santa and The Bad News Bears – for obvious reasons. Both of those movies work a lot better than Bad Teacher. What they have that this movie doesn't is a world that seems to feed their badness. The problem here is that the bad teacher is interesting but she wades in a world that is soft, dull and uninteresting.
The comic set-up of a slacker in an important profession is getting some legs lately with Bad Teacher, Bad Judge, Bad Santa, and Brooklyn Nine Nine (which is essentially "Bad Cop") and why shouldn't it? TV, film and real-life are all inundated with people who take their jobs too seriously, so this is a refreshing charms. The film comes in a phase in Cameron Diaz's career where she was no longer America's hot it girl (her "advanced" age is even referenced in Diaz's other 2011 film "The Green Hornet) and could have fun indulging in her comic persona which generally has a bit of a bite to it. The film can be read as a commentary on Diaz actively rebelling the shorter expiration date for hot film actresses by trying in vain to raise the money for a boob job and attempting to con real life ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake (who likely will not run out of roles 20 years from now) into marrying him. Back when Diaz was known for her supermodel looks and screen presence, her comic gifts were taken for granted which is why this has been such an interesting phase in her career.As for the film itself, while the premise is risqué, the film is in the mold of a classic comedy. It uses the medium well (something movies have to do more and more in this age of TV comedy) by filling up its two hours with nicely outstretched character arcs and big scenes (i.e. the car wash, the field trip). Lucy Punch, Phyllis Smith, John Michael Higgins and the endearing Jason Segel shine strong in supporting parts as well.