To sum up the film Bad Teacher in one word, I would have to express that it is rather ‘pedestrian’. What I mean is that the 2011 film starring Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, and Jason Segel hovers over that intangible area between laugh-out-loud hilarious and run-of-the-mill predictability. Some of the humour was outrageously funny and I did very much enjoy Diaz’s performance as an uninspired, selfish, vulgar, manipulative, alcoholic, drug popping and smoking middle school teacher.
The narrative is rather simplistic as it follows Diaz’s attempts to earn enough money to get breast augmentation surgery and the incredible lengths she goes to in order to scrounge up every last cent. From stealing test answers to wearing minimal garments for the grade seven car wash, there is no doubt that she is what the title suggests. Also, it is hard to ignore the fact that this woman’s body is out of this world, her smile is contagious as ever, and her fiercely blue eyes are hard to ignore. In addition, even though she is so completely in the wrong the entire film, you cannot help but be on her side as you pray for those brief moments of human compassion, like when she gives her bra to a boy in her class who got shot down after confessing his love for a classmate. She did this just so he could increase his poetic teaspoon sized male credibility to another level. In moments like these you get her ‘unique’ approach to doing what could be considered an honourable thing, and she never changes from who she really is on the inside. The only thing she does change by the end of the film is her gold digging agenda and large breast aspiration, almost as if she might have learned something.
The performances by Timberlake and Segel were rather lackluster, as I would have preferred Timberlake in a more masculine role rather than an uptight, preppy, emotional, almost ‘feminized’ version of a man…which could almost be an insult to women. Yet, he did have some saving grace moments even though he spent most of the film being a sensitive lemming. I appreciated how he sang with the teacher band and serenaded the audience with an atrocious song he wrote and the vocals were just as appalling. I enjoyed this because the world knows this man is a renowned musical sensation who can obviously carry a tune, so it was refreshing to watch him embarrass himself for the world to see.
One performance that I loved above the rest was Diaz’s only, almost friend in the school, a teacher named Lynn Davies played by Phyllis Smith. Everything that came out of her mouth was comedic dynamite and I wanted to jump into the screen to become her best friend. She was such a breath of fresh air on the screen and I hope she appears in more movies, stepping up from her weekly appearances on the hit show The Office. My favourite part is when Diaz complains to Smith about how she has so much trouble finding a man because they expect Barbie doll types…intention irony is really good sometimes!
Overall, there are moments of triumph and segments of utter disrepair, leaving it sitting in the middle of the film comedy pack, behind a hit like Wedding Crashers (2005) but WAY in front of all of Adam Sandler’s films released since Big Daddy (1999).