I wouldn’t say that Bad Teacher lacks all traces of intelligence, but it seems unmotivated to better itself to get a higher passing grade. It is lazy, goes for cheap and outlandish jokes to get laughs, loses focus… Ok, I am going to stop there. I was trying to recreate a parent / teacher conference as if Bad Teacher was the disappointing student. Mainly I just wanted to avoid the easy insult by playing with the title of the movie, but my attempt was about as poorly done as the film itself.
When looking for the source of a film’s problem, sometimes it isn’t necessary to look any further than the story. Cameron Diaz plays a gold digger that wants to find a husband that will foot the bill for her life of luxury. To do so, she decides that she needs to raise money to get a boob job in order to attract the right kind of man. Now as a comedy these idiotic plots can still lead to entertaining moments that make the lack of depth not really an issue, but this time around we are left standing in the shallow end.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of moments deserving of laughter in Bad Teacher, but it is definitely not the intelligent person’s film. There are a lot of pot smoking jokes/gags, sexually driven jokes, heck, even the classic bodily function jokes, but by this point in time I would like to believe that we have moved past the age of the American Pie style of comedy. Don’t worry, I actually enjoyed that film and appreciate the “classic” nature of it, but I hope for more from a summer that has brought easily my favorite comedy of all time with Bridesmaids. This is definitely not it.
The main draw to Bad Teacher is Diaz in the title role. Throughout her career Diaz has done pretty well playing the blonde, bubbly characters that are easy to love and can draw the smile out of anyone, but not here. To contrast this, she plays a teacher who really has no business being an example to anyone, let alone the youth of America, and is easily one of the hardest characters to connect to. Basically she is just a horrible person as the girl who never lost the queen b**** mindset, treating everyone as if they are simply there to make all of her dreams come true. At first I laughed just at the sight of seeing Diaz doing the detestable things that she does, but as the film progresses I just truly hated the woman she was playing and really didn’t care what happened to her. No, scratch that, I hoped someone punched her in the face and she was forced to live the rest of her life as a toothless bum with no friends other than a trashcan that she deserves to live in.
But the problems don’t stop there. As horrible as Diaz’s character is, at least she is somewhat realistic. Other than Jason Segel (who doesn’t get enough screen time), as well as Phyllis Smith who steals the film as another teacher who has reverted back into the “unpopular” girl vying to be a member of Halsey’s inner circle, the characters are too far into the realm of caricatures that the film seems like it is unsuccessfully blending the outlandish with the realistic. The biggest offenders of this are Lucy Punch as the “perfect” teacher that slowly has a mental breakdown at the desecration of her workplace at the hands of Halsey, John Michael Higins as a principal with a gross fascination with dolphins, and Justin Timberlake, who seems to be playing a role emulating a character you might see in an SNL skit. As much as I love every episode he has hosted of that show, I cannot say anything favorable about his character here.
To avoid another failed attempt at cleverness (see the intro), I’m just gonna go ahead and say that Bad Teacher is nothing more than a less than average comedy that is good for a laugh here or there, but leaves the audience feeling pretty empty in the end. It gets no gold stars.
Final Grade: C-