Movie review: Bad Teacher

This summer marks something of a renaissance, or perhaps an introduction, to the notion of females on film behaving just as badly as men. The success of “Bridesmaids” showed not only that women would enjoy seeing themselves reflected this way on screen, but also that men would help boost the bottom line as well.

And proving this theory isn’t a fluke, we now have “Bad Teacher,” where Cameron Diaz gets to show off her potty mouth and comedy chops in a surprisingly funny film that doesn’t pull any punches in portraying its heroine in an unrepentant light.

Elizabeth Halsey (Diaz) is a terrible, terrible teacher that is only using the job as a way station until she gets married to her sugar daddy fiance. But when he dumps her, she is forced to return to school and “teach” seventh grade the best way she knows how – by putting on cinematic teacher staples like “Stand and Deliver” and “Lean on Me.”

Elizabeth’s goals are simple: she wants to raise enough money for a boob job that will allow her to snag another rich boyfriend.

When attractive and rich substitute Scott (Justin Timberlake) arrives, Elizabeth has the perfect target. But Scott seems to have eyes for Elizabeth’s rival, the perky (and slightly unhinged) Ms. Squirrel (Lucy Punch).

When she’s not drinking, getting high, sleeping or fending off the advances of the school’s gym teacher (Jason Segel), Elizabeth is scheming to make money and avoid doing any sort of real work, from taking over the car wash to bribing parents.

It may be shocking to hear Diaz curse like a sailor, but she’s shown some deft comic chops in the past, and here, freed from her romantic comedy ghetto, she seems to be enjoying herself. It helps that she’s surrounded by a game cast that’s willing to go just as far to ensure that we find this teacher woefully inappropriate.

Of course, this film brings to mind “Bad Santa,” the Billy Bob Thornton epic about another misanthrope who finds the slightest redemption in dealing with his young charges. In mining similar territory, “Bad Teacher” shows that the script can be flipped and not feel like a pure knockoff under the solid direction of Jake Kasdan.

The film certainly has its share of big gags, but it’s some of the little bits that truly resonate, from the principal’s love of dolphins to standout work by Thomas Lennon in a brief role. And I’m thankful that the film didn’t take the easy way out by turning Elizabeth into a different person. No, she’s still the same old beeyotch, but perhaps with a little more knowledge on how to do things the right way.

So does this mean we’re going to be seeing a host of R-rated dirty girl flicks? Well, after a $30 million opening, “Bad Teacher” proves that with the right touch and the right cast, there’s money to be made in letting girls be just as bad as boys.

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~ by Elliott on June 29, 2011.

2 Responses to “Movie review: Bad Teacher”

  1. Oh I like this review…I LMAO…..Cameron Diaz can really sell comedy.

  2. I absolutely hated this movie. I really, really, really hated this movie. I wanted some redeeming characteristic for Diaz’s character; there were none. I wanted her to get some kind of comeuppance; there was no comeuppance!! At least in Bridesmaids, you saw *why* there was the crazy. With no back story and no real character development, Bad Teacher was just terrible. Sigh.

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