Monday, 22 August 2011


Bad Teacher [Review]

Opinion: B-

As the title character, Cameron Diaz couldn't have been better casted as the uncouth and materialistic teacher. What disrupts this talented comedienne as she showers gags about, is the poor scripting and directing that resulted in a lack of adequate chemistry within and between the cast members. Lucy Punch also scores a memorable performance as the hyperactive uptight teacher whose teacher role is the exact opposite of Diaz.

Some teachers just don't give an F. For example, there's Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz). She's foul-mouthed, ruthless, and inappropriate. She drinks, she gets high, and she can't wait to marry her meal ticket and get out of her bogus day job. When she's dumped by her fiance, she sets her plan in motion to win over a rich, handsome substitute (Justin Timberlake) - competing for his affections with an overly energetic colleague, Amy (Lucy Punch). When Elizabeth also finds herself fighting off the advances of a sarcastic, irreverent gym teacher (Jason Segel), the consequences of her wild and outrageous schemes give her students, her coworkers, and even herself an education like no other.

Not wanting to be labeled as harsh but, there is simply no room for credits to the directing and scripting in this film.

That said, let's focus on the cast for a more worthwhile discussion.

Elizabeth Halsey is a teacher in her 30s or so who neglects her students and only screens DVDs every class session as she dozes off blatantly on her desk and doesn't care about her professionalism. Uncouth words slip out of her mouth as easy as water from tap, and she sips alcohol and inhales drugs whenever the opportunities allow her to.

Diaz fits the lead role almost perfectly and sometimes I really wonder if that's her true personality in reality as well. Not trying to unfairly imply here but that's what I feel when seeing how comfortable Diaz is in her role.

With a limited and uninspiring script, Diaz seems to be desperately giving her best at comedy with her multiple gags thrown about on the silver screen whenever possible and not fail to connect (she gets me laughing most of the time). This is where we see the talents of Diaz as a comedienne, not that we are surprised since she's been in several comedy roles prior. I guess a lot in the film has to derive from Diaz's on set improvisation, because it's a different story for the rest of the cast as it's almost certain that they followed the script faithfully.

While Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake render lifeless and insignificant performance in the film (especially the latter), Lucy Punch proves to be a delight to watch with her dynamic portrayal of an edgy and mercurial teacher who tries hard to be the best teacher in the state while fronting some uncontrollable hysteria when taunted.

There is also the introverted colleague played by Phyllis Smith, whose ignorance of situations lead her to unpredictable consequences, is really an undermined character in Bad Teacher. She proves to be a much needed balance to all the loud performance displayed by Diaz and Punch. Indeed, not many thought much of her but I think she had a certain purpose to serve in the film and does it finely.

There's other sideline characters like Diaz's class students, and it's alarming to see no distinctive involvement of any students in the film. Their presence seems to be of second class, serving the film as mere plot gap and enhancement fills.

Speaking of plot gaps, there seems to be several of these around. Not a lot of plot material's covered in Bad Teacher as I remember seeing quite a number of "x months later..." flashing between chapters, which seems to be a convenient way of skipping plot chapters. This not only reduced the depth of the story (not that there's much of it) but also made the key characters shallow without much background profiling and development.

What happened between Diaz's divorce and her first day back at school in the opening? What happened in class during the final preparations for the examinations?

While the film clearly envisions itself to be a slapstick comedy driven by Diaz, Bad teacher does deliver a number of laugh out loud gags and moments together with a somewhat peculiar dry-humping scene involving Timberlake and Diaz (it felt rather awkward to sit through that).

For laughs, you get some. For more, you get none.


  1. Sound like a fun movie to watch while I spend my lazy weekend at home. I'll wait for the DVD then ;)

  2. I have to disagree entirely. This was one of the most brilliant comedies ever written in my opinion. Far and away superior to that craptacular Hangover and even Bridesmaids. I thought the script was incredibly well-written, the pacing spot on and the cast had tremendous chemistry.

    Timberlake totally delivers as the naive and clueless substitute while Diaz and Segal were completely matched in every way. Lucy Punch was over-the-top fantastic as the crazy Ms. Squirrel. This was raw, dirty brilliance that went there with every joke. It was outrageous and I laughed and laughed through this entire movie, which I almost never do with comedies.

  3. Though I did disagree, I still think this was a thoughtful review. I enjoyed reading your take. I loved the movie so much, I guess I couldn't really be objective. :)

  4. @Jaccstev Maybe you could check out Melissa's opinion as well to have a better idea! :)

    @Melissa There's no wrong is owning a differing second opinion, it's always been the case for film. I think it's hard for anyone to be objective, so I actually benefited from reading your take on it. Gave me a better perspective that I could be blinded from.

    Thanks for the share! :D


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