Sunday, 20 May 2012

Film Review #41

Bad Teacher (2011)
Director: Jake Kasdan Starring: Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Lucy Punch, Jason Segel, Phyllis Smith, John Michael Higgins, Thomas Lennon

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 9? Minutes

Tagline: "She doesn't give an F!"

Who watched the 2003 Billy Bob Thorton vehicle, Bad Santa? It rubbed a few people up the wrong way but for most it was an immensely funny film based on such a simple concept - someone very unsuitable for the job they've somehow ended up with, and who of course doesn't even try to be good at it! I'm surprised it's taken someone so long to move the idea to a different 'profession' but finally here it is - the appropriately named Bad Teacher featuring Cameron Diaz in the title role of Elizabeth Halsey as if you couldn't guess! Like Bad Santa's Willie, she's not an especially nice person either. Rather than a career criminal though, this time the character suits the gender change perfectly - she's a shallow, selfish, golddigger who's been planning to leave her job and live off her wealthy fiancés money - until he wises up to her game and dumps her...

Of course, being the kind of person she is, losing the fiancé doesn't bother her but the loss of his money forces her to prolong her reluctant career as an educator. Her solution is to save up for a boob-job which will, supposedly, ensnare any rich guy of her choosing, but most of her meagre earnings are spent on the booze and weed that she uses flagrantly, leaving her to search elsewhere while attempting to coast through the days showing movies in class while she sleeps off her hangovers. She doesn't have to despair for long though as a rich substitute teacher, Scott (Timberlake - Diaz's real-life ex), arrives at her school as if by magic! What's less magical is her hyper-enthusiastic teaching colleague, Amy (Punch), with whom she quickly finds herself competing for the affections of Scott and all the while fending off the relentless advances of unwealthy (and therefore undesirable) gym teacher, Russell (Segel).

Like Bad Santa, the potential for a riotous comedy here is great. The big question is: has this 'bad' fulfilled its potential like the previous one did? Well, the choice of Ms. Diaz for the lead was certainly a good one. As we've seen before, she can pull off the trashy, vulgar temptress with apparent ease and so is the case here as well. There's some great lines and some great scenes, almost all featuring her and her undeniable charms of course, and Segel continues his scene-stealing run as well. Timberlake, too, is proving to be a man of surprising talent, playing the charming but well-meaning sensitive type excellently, and it's this trio who unsurprisingly make Bad Teacher a solidly entertaining diversion. It's not as funny or outrageous as Bad Santa, and perhaps doesn't use the concept as well as Zwigoff's film either, but refreshingly it's not a total Hollywood sell-out either and doesn't get weighed down with sentimentality on the way to its fairly, but not wholly, predictable climax. Better than expected...

RKS Score: 7/10


  1. I saw this at the cinema at actually really liked it. Need to get around to picking the DVD up so I can see it again. Also, am I the only one who thinks Lucy Punch is a bit of alright? :)

  2. Her character was a bit annoying (as she was intended to be) but she certainly has a splendid pair of knockers :)