Everything that could make a good adult comedy is present in Bad Teacher: It has a relatable setting with an unapologetic premise and a cast willing to go all out. Unfortunately, Bad Teacher fails to make the most out of it.
Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz) is off to marry a rich guy and live the luxurious life she has always wanted; but her boyfriend calls the wedding off. So she reluctantly returns to her job as a middle school teacher.
Elizabeth plans to spend the school year like she did last time: coasting by with barely any effort. But things change when a new rich teacher Scott (Justin Timberlake) arrives. Elizabeth believes that by getting breast augmentation, she would be able to attract him, but the operation is expensive so Elizabeth does everything, regardless if it’s illegal, just to raise money for a bigger rack.
Elizabeth is not misunderstood, she’s simply self-absorbed. She only pursued a teaching career because it’s the easiest thing for her to do while waiting to snatch a rich man to pamper him. It may be hard to root for Elizabeth but Diaz nails the role by being delightfully devilish. You won’t find yourself wanting to strangle her to death despite her nastiness.
It’s unfortunate that the screenplay was not able to match Diaz’s performance. The movie was basically a showcase of bad behavior, petty antics, predictable toilet humor, and sex jokes—all of which are witless in general. For instance, When Elizabeth does a sexy carwash dance, the camera focuses to one student who had an erection—that’s the joke, no more, no less. There’s also an “almost” sex scene between Scott and Elizabeth that was tacky and painful to watch.
The ensemble, composed of credible TV comedy actors like Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother), Lucy Punch (The Class), Phyllis Smith (The Office), Thomas Lennon (Reno 911), Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family), and veteran character actors John Michael Higgins and Molly Shannon, was solid since each was able to bring energy to the tepid material given. On the other hand, Justin Timberlake could not escape the poorly written Scott who suffers from no solid characterization whatsoever. His peculiar behavior didn’t pay off because it’s as if the writers were confused as well on what to do with him, so they just left the character as it is—one big mess.
Bad Teacher is just like the main character: uninspired and lazy. The movie wanted to bring outrageous “She didn’t do that!” sequences but the execution only brought “Yeah, she did that” moments. By trying to be edgy, it resorted to cheap tricks which in turn made the movie hardly funny at all. 4 / 10
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