Monday 23 April 2012

Movie Review: Bad Teacher (2011)

An adult comedy of bad manners in the class room, Bad Teacher showcases Cameron Diaz's talent and little else. After establishing the basic premise, the film fizzles into a trite search for whatever passes as a happy ending.

Golddigger Elizabeth Halsey (Diaz) is a middle school teacher, doing the bare minimum for her students while desperately seeking a rich husband. Recently dumped by an affluent fiancĂ©e, Elizabeth is broke and desperate to find a man to look after her expensive tastes. Meanwhile, at school, she smokes pot, drinks, and teaches nothing: she just shows her students an endless stream of movies. Fellow teacher Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch) is over-enthusiastic about delivering a good education, and as a result clashes early and often with Elizabeth, while gym teacher Russell (Jason Segel) is interested in dating Elizabeth, but he does not have the wealth that she craves.

New teacher Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake) is spineless but appears to come from a rich family, and is therefore immediately an attractive option. Elizabeth learns that Scott's former girlfriend had large breasts and becomes obsessed with collecting enough money to augment her own. When Elizabeth finds out that there is a financial reward for the best teacher in the county, she hatches a plan to steal the official state test questions to help her students succeed, setting in motion a chain of events that will land both her and Amy in a heap of trouble.

Funny only in patches and unnecessarily crude in parts, Bad Teacher has a thin veneer of talent. Cameron Diaz shines in an over-the-top, brassy and sexy performance, packing into Elizabeth Halsey every imaginable nightmare teacher trait. Diaz allows herself to have fun with a wildly exaggerated comic character, and she gives Bad Teacher its only lift.

Otherwise, there isn't much to celebrate. The script is unable to build on the personality of the central character, and veers into jerky transformations, Elizabeth suddenly eager to deliver a proper education in a desperate attempt to win cash, and even less convincingly discovering a talent for mending young broken hearts and the potential charm of the non-wealthy. Justin Timberlake fails to make an impression, Jason Segel is his usual irritating self, and Lucy Punch has the thankless task of playing Amy as the anti-Elizabeth, although Amy's concealed stress triggers hint at a deliciously damaged personality that deserved more screen time.

Director Jake Kasdan, son of Lawrence, capably demonstrates that he has a long way to go to match his dad's illustrious achievements.

Bad Teacher gets a C for sputtering entertainment mixed with disappointingly lackadaisical effort.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

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