DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
BAD TEACHER (director: Jake Kasdan; screenwriters: Gene Stupnitsky/Lee Eisenberg; cinematographer: Alar Kivilo; editor: Tara Timpone; music: Michael Andrews; cast: Cameron Diaz (Elizabeth Halsey), Justin Timberlake (Scott Delacorte), Lucy Punch (Amy Squirrel), John Michael Higgins (Principal Wally Snur), Jason Segel (Russell Gettis), Phyllis Smith (Lynn Davies), Thomas Lennon (Carl Halabi), Molly Shannon (Melody), Eric Stonestreet (Kirk), Dave Allen (Sandy Pinkus), Matthew J. Evans (Garrett Tiara), Kaitlyn Dever (Sasha Abernathy), Nat Faxon (Mark); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Jimmy Miller/David Householter; Columbia Pictures; 2011)

 
"Never fully clicks because the anti-hero protagonist never really becomes a sympathetic figure even when she sort of redeems herself."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Jake Kasdan ("Zero effect"/"Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story"/"The TV Set") helms this bad taste raunchy comedy about a nasty without a conscience Chicago middle school teacher, Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz). The bad teacher is a self-absorbed, manipulative, abusive, scheming opportunistic, boozing, pot-smoking, foul-mouthed excuse for a teacher, who does her boozing and pot-smoking in the class. The amoral film is written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, whose yahoo comedy is filled with fart jokes, boob gags, demeaning jokes that encourages the viewer to laugh at supposedly inferiors, an unfunny dry humping gag and many other gross-out sight gags. It, for the most part, satisfactorily delivers with savvy the jokes its fanbase expects, and after showing Elizabeth as a shit for most of the pic it ends on an artificially sweetened note that maybe she's salvageable as a teacher. Though it never clears up the matter of Elizabeth stealing a state-wide exam and giving the answers to her students, which she does in order to get a bonus to pay for her fake boob procedure. The pic ignores that such an act is cheating and considered criminal by just never responding to it. It lazily settles for being a lesser Bad Santa black comedy, one that never fully clicks because the anti-hero protagonist never really becomes a sympathetic figure even when she sort of redeems herself. 

After teaching for one year at the John Adams Middle School, bad teacher Elizabeth quits to marry a foppish rich guy (Nat Faxon). When her fiancé dumps her after catching on she's a gold-digger, a disheartened Elizabeth returns to the same school to teach seventh-grade English in the fall semester. Not interested in teaching, Elizabeth turns her attention to getting a breast implant to make her boobs big, which will help her score as a boyfriend the boring but geeky rich wrist-watch heir new teacher Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake). Upset that the boob job will cost her $10, 000, a sum she doesn't have, she spends the rest of the pic plotting how to raise such dough on the quick. During the semester she wards off the advances of affable nice-guy gym teacher Russell (Jason Segel), has an on-going battle with the obnoxious overachieving driven rival teacher Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch, British actress), uses her sweet but confused and unappealing looking colleague, Lynn (Phyllis Smith), as the foil for her misanthropic humor, and outsmarts the clueless principal (John Michael Higgins) into not caring that she only shows movies to her class instead of teaching regular lessons.

The A,B, C's of it add up to a low-brow, crowd-pleasing, broad comedy, that's made as a commercial venture by a director who couldn't get box-office with his other more artistic films--ones that eventually reached a cult audience when on DVD. Cameron Diaz dominates the pic, and if a fan of Ms. Diaz it's most likely you will come away pleased as punch with her physical comedy; especially since she's so well-suited for the part. If not a fan of comedies like this one that sink so low to get laughs, you probably will find it repellent and give it a failing grade.

REVIEWED ON 6/25/2011       GRADE: C

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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