Director : Jake Kasdan
Starring : Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake
Running Time : 92 minutes
Release Date : 21st July 2011
Elizabeth Hasley (Cameron Diaz) is a teacher who ignores her friendly colleagues and distressed students. She can’t wait to leave the school and marry her rich fiancé, but when she does, he dumps her after learning how self centred she is. So it’s back to school for her, to her dissatisfaction.
She meets the new substitute, Scott, (Justin Timberlake) and makes him her target, but finds herself competing with sweet fellow teacher Amy (Lucy Punch).
Cameron Diaz is very charming and she’s great at playing this bitter, offensive, unsympathetic teacher. There’s also the supporting cast filled with sitcom actors from How I Met Your Mother, The Office and Modern Family who do a fine job. There are a handful of funny offensive takes on the middle-class American elementary school system.
But Bad Teacher is not as hilariously funny as it could have been. As far as offensive comedies go, Bad Teacher feels broad.
I have a feeling some producer sat in his office one day and said “What if we got Cameron Diaz to play this hot teacher who drinks, smokes marijuana, swears at her students…hold the phone! What if there was a school carwash? We should have her in a pair of mini-denim-shorts and do the Paris Hilton carwash tease in front of her students”. The movie feels like it had more of a kernel going for it rather than an actual script.
You soon start to lose focus on what the drive of Diaz’s character is. Elizabeth will show signs of possibly doing justice for someone, but then she’ll automatically go back to being a cold-hearted bitch and do something cruel. Plus, for a bad teacher, she mostly sleeps at her desk while her students watch movies.
The breast implants subplot looses its meaning along the way because there are moments in the movie that don’t quite fit, like when Elizabeth reluctantly accepts an invitation to have Christmas dinner at one of her students’ house. But most of all, Justin Timberlake is given a nothing role as Scott.
He comes on screen for 20 seconds and then goes for 5 minutes without having much to say. Because of this, there’s no real sense of competition or bitchy rivalry between Elizabeth and Amy. It’s sad because they could have done so much with his interesting character. Also, when you have Justin Timberlake singing in your movie, give him a song that involves some humour at least.
All this could have been remedied if all of the teachers were not family-friendly archetypes surrounding the bitter Elizabeth. They could have been made into frustrated adults who had to put up with the difficulties of teaching kids, or the movie could have had an irritating student that both the audience and Elizabeth would equally hate.
In addition to Diaz’s winning performance, there are enough laughs to recommend Bad Teacher. You just get the feeling that so much potential had gone to waste for what could have been an uproariously offensive comedy.