Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Movie Review: Bad Teachers Tell Bad Jokes

Bad Teacher movie poster, property of Columbia Pictures.
Bad Teacher AVERAGE

Cameron Diaz stars as Elizabeth Halsey, a middle school teacher who has no motivation to teach.  She was hoping to marry a rich man and stop teaching for good, but that plan fell through.  Now she just slumps over her desk drinking booze and getting high while her students watch movie after movie.  But when Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake) joins the staff, her plans to woo and marry a rich man are kicked into high gear.  She’s confident that she’ll win him with a boob job, so she does everything in her power to raise the money—including theft, blackmail, seduction, etc.  A fellow teacher named Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch) is on to her though, and the two battle it out.

Elizabeth’s only friends at the school are the gym teacher named Russell (Jason Segel) who has a thing for her and Lynn (Phyllis Smith) who is naively oblivious to Elizabeth’s cruelty.  Segel and Smith get some of the biggest laughs and are arguably the only endearing characters in the film.  Poor Justin Timberlake is stuck playing the boring and unfunny Scott.  There really isn’t much to his character at all.  And Lucy Punch’s over-the-top example of the “perfect” teacher is comedic at times but mostly just weird and annoying.

The biggest flaw of the movie is the central character of Elizabeth.  Cameron Diaz tries her best to turn the lemon of a script (written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg) into lemonade, but there just isn’t much to work with.  She has her funny moments, but if you’ve seen the trailer to this movie you’ve pretty much seen it all.  She throws balls at kids, curses like a sailor, and insults their baked goods.  It kind of gets old quick.  And is she a redeemable anti-hero?  Not really.  She’s pretty much awful from beginning to end…

That being said, there were some really funny scenes that got me to laugh.  The problem was waiting through the awkward bits for the next working punch line.  The pacing of the movie is just so uneven!  If I were to grade this film, I’d give it a C-.  That’s a shame because I feel like the concept was good and with a bit of tweaking it really could have been an A film.  Unfortunately, the way it was handled left Elizabeth as nothing more than a bad teacher telling bad jokes.

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