Best Movies of All Time + Thomas Lennon



Bad Teacher is a 2011 comedy directed by Jake Kasdan that centers around the livelihood of one, well, bad teacher. When Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) gets dumped by her ultra-rich fiance, she has to revert back to her days spent as a junior high teacher. Rather than using her job as an opportunity to enrich the lives of children, however, she takes the chance to attempt to woo a new colleague named Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake). When she learns that Scott has a bit of an affinity for large breasts, Elizabeth dedicates herself to raising enough money to fit into Scott's type, so to speak. At the same time, she starts to engage in a bit of a rivalry with another teacher named Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), who is both vying to be the best teacher in the school as well as for Scott's affection. When Elizabeth learns that the teacher whose class scores the highest on the state-wide standardized test will earn a respectable bonus, her battle against Amy shifts into high gear.

As my readers will know, Bad Teacher landed a spot on my list of this summer's most anticipated movies, falling in at number ten. I think it's safe to say that I had relatively high hopes for this one going into its theatrical run, and even after it started to garner negative reviews, I kept my hopes up that we'd be in for quite a laugh-fest. After finally seeing the film, I can honestly say that my first emotional reaction was disappointment.

Now, I don't want to go as far as saying that the movie is horrendous. There's definitely bits and pieces that will get you laughing - or at least chuckling - from time to time. However, the screenplay on the whole really isn't all that impressive. The basic storyline is rote and predictable, so there's nothing there that grabs the audience's attention. Because of this, the film's potential for success was forced to rely on the jokes and gags more than anything else. For any movie, that poses quite a problem, especially when you get a film like Bad Teacher. The jokes and gags we're given aren't nearly enough to drive along the film, and that's where this movie truly gets hurt. It tries to rely too heavily on raunchy and shock-value humor rather than finding a way to blend it with an equal amount of genuine humor. In a way, you can make the argument that Bad Teacher is really targeted at an audience of teenage boys rather than the mass public.

Some of the actors do their best to save the ship, but there's not a lot to be done when they're given a screenplay this awful. I was hoping that Bad Teacher could serve as a resurgence for Cameron Diaz who I thought desperately needed a winning role to re-start her career. While she has her moments during the film, I mostly found her to be a little whining and annoying. She does just enough to make her character appealing enough to be our lead, but that's as far as she takes it. I personally couldn't stand either Timberlake or Punch throughout the film, as their characters were much too over-the-top for my own liking. I understood the direction they were taking their characters, but it really seemed to be much too much. If anyone's worth seeing, it's Jason Segel, who plays the school's gym teacher who lusts after Diaz. His comic timing is, and has always been, simply brilliant, and he almost makes this movie watchable. We also get some okay performances from some smaller players like Phyllis Smith, John Michael Higgins and Thomas Lennon. Also be on the lookout for an appearance by Molly Shannon.

As much as I hate the fact that I'm throwing this film under the bus a little bit, I can't rightfully tell you to spend your money to see Bad Teacher. I had high hopes for the film, but as I stated earlier, I was utterly disappointed with the final product. Segel might be worth the price of admission, but it'd be a long-shot. I'd say wait for this one to hit NetFlix before you give it a view - otherwise, I think you'll simply be wasting your money.

Movie Review Summary:Grade: D+
Thumbs Sideways

2011, Bad Teacher, Cameron Diaz, comedy, Jake Kasdan, Jason Segel, John Michael Higgins, Justin Timberlake, Lucy Punch, Molly Shannon, movie review, Phyllis Smith, and more:

Relevant to: BAD TEACHER + Thomas Lennon