Bad Teacher (2011) – Film Review

Cameron Diaz is a very bad teacher...

Bad Teacher is a comedy directed by Jake Kasdan, perhaps best known for such kooky comedies as Orange Country and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Here his story focuses, unsurprisingly, on a really bad teacher played by Cameron Diaz. Elizabeth, dumped by her rich fiancé, must now face the fact that she may have to stick to teaching for a little while longer. Now, Elizabeth isn’t just a regular teacher – she is potty-mouthed, sleeps during classes and her idea of education is sticking a film on for her kids to watch for the most of the term.

Elizabeth forms a new plan though, and decides that to find another rich playmate she must get a boob job. To get said boob job she first needs money and soon finds any which way she can to manipulate the students in order to get it, which includes a rather entertaining performance at their annual car wash fundraiser. During this time there is a new substitute teacher on the scene, played by Justin Timberlake – and his family happen to be rich.

What then ensues is Elizabeth’s quest to not only reach her ‘boob fund’ target but also to fall into the affections of Timberlake’s Scott. She has her hands full, though, battling a slightly psychotic fellow teacher, Amy (Lucy Punch) whose vibrant and cheery personality often borders on un-hinged. These two not only have a battle of teacher wits but a falling out over Scott. Elizabeth learns that the teacher whose class gets the best scores at the end of year test gets a big bonus, the dollar signs flash in Diaz’s eyes, and soon she is on a mission to get the grades by any means possible.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall star Jason Segal plays Russell Getis, the school’s gym teacher who often gets shot down by Elizabeth with vicious insults, although you can see the sparks flying under the arguments and petty fighting.

Bad Teacher is a good comedy but it’s not a great one, lacking, as it does, that extra grade to get it really noticed in this year’s releases. Diaz does a worthy job as Elizabeth and she has great comic timing in her role. It is a little hard to believe that someone who looks like Diaz would be so concenred about her chest size or that superficial that she thinks that it could save all of her problems.

Justin Timberlake, hot on the heels of his rewarding turn in The Social Network, serves a good follow up here and proves he can act. His character is very amusing, if not very cringe-worthy, and he provides a particularly funny memorable moment. This said, despite his hot god status, he is overshadowed by the subtle performance of Jason Segal.

Bad Teacher is great for a few hours escapism with some funny characters, missions impossible and some good looking people on screen. It is worth noting however that with some extra time spent on the lesson plans this could have been a lot better.

Best performance: Cameron Diaz
Best scene: A liaison between Elizabeth and Scott.
Best lines: Lynn: ‘Are you excited for tomorrow?’
Elizabeth: ‘Is tomorrow Saturday?’
Lynn: ‘No, it’s the first day of school’.
Elizabeth: ‘Yeah, I’m not gonna go to that’.
Lynn: ‘But it’s mandatory’.

This is the third time Diaz and Timberlake have acted together since they split up five years ago.

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