Friday, July 1, 2011

BAD TEACHER (2011)

Written by Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupnitsky


Directed by Jake Kasdan


Where & When: Los Feliz 3 Cinemas, Los Angeles, CA. June 27, 2010  4:15PM



Female actors rarely get the opportunity to carry a major motion picture these days, so following the recent big box-office success of "Bridesmaids", a sweet but raunchy comedy that focuses almost entirely on female friendships, surprisingly comes another comedy that features a female lead,  "Bad Teacher. Cameron Diaz stars and while this film has it's share of lewd humor, this is where any similarities end. "Bad Teacher" is a dark and vulgar take on one self-centered woman's relentless pursuit of wealth and will do just about anything (or anyone) to get it.

The "bad teacher" in question is Elizabeth Hasley (Diaz), an amoral, foul-mouthed gold-digger who is only a school teacher because it seemed to her that teaching wouldn't require too much effort on her part until she lands a wealthy husband. She manages to find a sucker to marry her and the school faculty throws her a farewell party although she didn't take any time to get to know any of the other teachers.

After being accused of wanting to marry her fiance only for his money, Elizabeth is unceremoniously dumped. With no other options, she has to return to teaching. Her idea of teaching, however, involves showing her students movies of examples of real educators teaching such as "Lean On Me" and "Dangerous Minds" while she tries to sleep off her hangover.

Elizabeth doesn't want to stick around for long so she comes up with a plan that if she gets her breasts enlarged, she will be able to snag another rich man and considering her intelligence and personality, getting new tits seems to be her best option.

The problem is that Elizabeth is cash-strapped so she has to get creative. She discovers that the students have a car wash to raise money, so she gets involved by using her best assets to help inspire men that they need to have their autos thoroughly cleaned while she skims some of the money earned for her operation.

An obstacle is Amy Squirrell (Lucy Punch), a manically perky fellow teacher who feels that Elizabeth has no place in a classroom and witnesses her taking the money. She goes to the principal (John Micahel Higgins) but he can't just take her word for it, so Amy has to take matters in to her own hands.

A substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake) arrives and when Elizabeth discovers he comes from money, she is all over him but he has his eyes set on the seemingly sweet teacher, Amy, while the gym teacher (Jason Segel) wants to take Elizabeth out on a date but she has no interest as he may be a nice guy but he doesn't have enough zeros at the end of his paycheck.

"Bad Teacher" never pretends to be art but at least more of an effort should have been made for it to be an actual comedy. The film has a decent plot and most certainly had the potential to be a laugh riot but this script is so painfully inept as the film's writers (who write for the U.S version of "The Office") takes too many of it's comedy cues from the worst of television sitcoms. Most of the jokes are stale and fall flat mainly because of the mistaken idea that simply by putting in a few politically-incorrect jokes or tossing a few off-color words around would miraculously make everything funnier. Sure, it works for "South Park" but at least they make some effort to make it clever. Mr.Kasdan's direction doesn't help matters as it's lazy and lacks any imagination .

I can see why Ms Diaz would want to play this role as it was a way to shake-up her sunny image and she is certainly game as she gets to say a few shocking things, curse like a rapper and wear her sexuality on her sleeve but this material is way beneath her. Mr. Timberlake and Mr. Segel.are completely wasted with nothing much to do as they are basically playing the "female" role in the typical male-driven comedy. The only highlight is Ms Punch's hilarious work as the caring teacher who slowly becomes unglued as Diaz's character keeps one-upping her.

So I offer this simple equation about "Bad Teacher": slumming movie-star + unfunny toilet humor  = bad movie.