Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bad Teacher

Bad Teacher is Bad Santa in a middle school instead of a mall.  This is Cameron Diaz’s movie as she is in almost every scene and limits Justin Timberlake and Jason Segel to mostly throw away screen time.  Diaz plays 7th grade teacher Elizabeth Halsey whose only goal is to marry rich.  She almost succeeds as the movie opens, but a protective mother-in-law thwarts her plans.  This forces Elizabeth to return for another school year while she schemes ways to steal money from the school for a boob job.  In Elizabeth’s mind, it is not her bad attitude or lack of personality which keeps her from landing a sugar daddy, it is her flat chest. 
The other teachers are played quite well by an effective supporting cast including her main rival across the hall, Lucy Punch, and an always amusing Phyllis Smith from The Office.  Justin Timberlake arrives at school as a new teacher, quite possibly with family money to spare, which inevitable creates the feud between Diaz and Punch as they attempt to woo the newbie.  Jason Segel is the gym teacher who has taken a shine to Elizabeth even though he knows exactly what kind of teacher she really is.  Elizabeth shows a movie every day in class while she sneaks mini-bottle liquor behind her desk and smokes weed in the parking lot.  She also eats an abnormally high amount of junk food to maintain the flawless body which she flaunts around in skimpy clothes. 
The dirty jokes are actually pretty good across the board and Diaz’s obscene foul mouth produces plenty of shocking moments.  Unfortunately, Bad Teacher doesn’t work.  The character of Elizabeth is not believable for one second, Timberlake’s character is just ridiculous, and Jason Segel might be on screen for a whole four minutes.  There are plot holes involving a state test Elizabeth must have known about from the year prior which she is surprisingly unfamiliar with this year and a principal’s dolphin obsession which goes nowhere.  Granted, there should be a little leeway on believable characters in a comedy, but this bad teacher is so left field that her antics display a level of parody and mocking rather than true comedy. 

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