In BAD TEACHER, Cameron Diaz plays Elizabeth Halsey a shallow, self-centered, duplicitous woman who becomes a teacher because the hours are short, you have summer’s off and there is little to no accountability. Ready to kiss her one year teaching career good-bye, she plans to marry over the summer, but her situation suddenly changes when her gold-digging motives come to light and her rich fiancee dumps her. Nearing forty and running out of time, Elizabeth decides to focus all her attention on finding a new millionaire and she feels that the best way to achieve this is with a boob job. Instead of throwing herself into her second year of teaching her new focus is raising cash and finding a rich husband. After all, new tits are not cheap and you have to buy two of them.

As a character, I think that Cameron Diaz had a clear vision of who she wanted Elizabeth Halsey to be, but when you consider what an awful, morally bankrupt person that is, it was kind of brave of her to throw her self completely into the role. The R rating is deserved, but on the other hand there is no nudity involved. There is however a lot of profanity, racial slurs, gay jokes, vulgarity and explicit drug use. If your idea of funny is watching a teacher light up and engage in the kind behavior they told you not to do, then you will like this film. But if you think that is too easy and you expect more cleverness in your script, then you are going to be sorely disappointed. This film is wearing a dunce cap, it could have been much smarter.

One of the strengths of BAD TEACHER is its stellar comedic cast. There are some real pros in this film and the featured actors are funny too. Jason Segel plays a flabby easy-going gym teacher, Justin Timberlake, a repressed substitute teacher, and Judy Punch portrays a over-zealous colleague who has Elisabeth Halsey in her crosshairs. The dolphin-loving school principal is nicely played by John Michael Higgins and Phyllis Smith from TV’s The Office plays a weak-willed teacher who looks up to Halsey for validation and approval. But as good as all these actors are, their comedic styles didn’t always mesh. Some characters were broad and over the top while others were a bit more restrained. There were sparks of brilliance and some really funny moments, but overall the film lacked cohesiveness. The tone was consistent, but it needed more color and shade. I often felt that the film lacked originality.

I wouldn’t say that BAD TEACHER was a bad movie. I did laugh and I found a lot of scenes in the film to be funny. But it is too inappropriate for teenagers and probably not raunchy enough for young adults, so I wonder who this film is made for.

If this movie was a teaching assignment an evaluator would ask what the objectives were and what was the goal of the assignment. A little clarity and more direction would have made a much better film. The result seemed like a term paper written the night before it was due. It got the job done, but if better planned, it could have been brilliant.

Melanie Wilson
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