June 26, 2011 by Vinnie Leduc
Bad Teacher isn’t quite in the same class as Bridesmaids (review here), but it’s still consistently funny despite being hampered by the occasional dud. The film shuns raunchy gross-out shock gags (i.e., no male frontal nudity, which has become a common staple of R-rated comedies in the last half decade or so), perhaps a reflection of the writing team’s roots in television’s The Office.
Very much like Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa, Cameron Diaz plays an immoral and unlikeable lowlife who’s supposed to be dealing with children gingerly but instead corruptly indulges in various vices (oh, the hypocrisy!). The drug abuser drinks whiskey and sleeps in her own class. She doesn’t give an F about her students. And anything is fair game when it comes to getting what she wants.
Diaz embodies the role well (with a specialization on bodies), and she’s complemented by a strong supporting cast, save for one. Lucy Punch and Phyllis Smith, both better known for their TV work (The Class and The Office, respectively), turn in delightful performances as fellow educators. It seems like comedy veteran Jason Segal is mostly there to oversee the film and make sure it’s more like the sleeper hit There’s Something About Mary (for which Diaz was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress) and less like the POS flop The Sweetest Thing (for which I’ll never forgive myself for watching). However, he’s able to get some good lines in.
So which one doesn’t belong? The seemingly forced casting of Justin Timberlake. He may be a popular guest on Saturday Night Live, but his comedy on the silver screen (The Love Guru) continues to draw poor marks in Bad Teacher. I’m not sure if this is really his fault because the roles in both movies were forgettable and not exactly tailored to him. It’s as if he was planted there because the novelty of his presence somehow equates to a pop culture reference. I guess we’ll see how he handles a starring role in next month’s Friends With Benefits.
With the long list of controversial current issues plaguing public school education, there were so many areas that the movie could have touched upon but were ultimately left unexplored. Instead, it focused on the titular character, which was thoroughly entertaining until it succumbed to an anticlimactic and typical Hollywood ending. With a final grade of B-, Bad Teacher is good comedy. Bad Teacher gets 3 out of 5 stars or B- or Good.