I remember seeing the TV spots and trailers for BAD TEACHER and being excited because it seemed to come from the same vein as BAD SANTA, a movie I find hysterical. BAD TEACHER looked to be much more mainstream with stars such as Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake and Jason Segal attached to it, but carried the same type of stigma of inappropriate humor from supposed child icons or role models. On one hand BAD TEACHER does fit the bill of inappropriate behavior in front of children and people in general, but is nowhere near as hysterical as the premise seemed it would be.
Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz) is a junior high teacher retiring after just a year to marry her sugar daddy until she is thrown back down to Earth when he dumps her and returns back to the teaching grindstone. Elizabeth is under the impression that she needs a flashy new pair of boobs in order to attract a wealthy suitor so that she never has to work again so her motivation to teach is only to earn enough money to pay for her boob job. While she saves her extra money she also takes a liking to a young substitute teacher, Scott (Justin Timberlake) and makes an enemy with a fellow teacher, Amy (Lucy Punch). Elizabeth spends the majority of the school year slacking off by showing nothing but movies everyday and taking advantage of every opportunity to make a little extra cash as she can.
The movie focuses on Cameron Diaz’s character who shows a lot of promise as a comedic character at the start. However, it doesn’t take long to see that her character is painfully one note and shallow which becomes the go to joke from beginning to end. Even deplorable characters in comedies have their moment of humanity while maintaining their ugly characteristics but I found nothing redeeming in Diaz’s character outside of a few minor moments towards the end. Diaz herself does a great job with what she’s given which can be said for Jason Segal’s character as well. Justin Timberlake has been somewhat of a pleasant surprise in movies he’s been in but here he’s just a bland nerdy stereotype who only gets his time to shine and be funny during an awkward scene of dry humping.
BAD TEACHER is not guilty of being an inherently unfunny movie but it is guilty of mostly unfunny characters that only have abbreviated moments of anything that resembles comedy and a few scattered moments of genuine laughs. The movie is full of characters we’ve either seen before in better comedies or characters that are criminally underwritten and waste any potential it could have had.
The aforementioned dry humping scene between Timberlake and Diaz is probably the one scene that made me laugh the most outside of a few scenes that seemed completely improvised rather than heavily scripted. The biggest problem of the film seems to be the ridiculous motivation of the main character and the way she goes about fixing that problem. The problem with her plight is that it seems like something reserved as a secondary plot device as opposed something to drive the entire film.
The film is definitely raunchy and risqué when it comes to language and adult situations in and amongst impressionable teenagers and some of the better comedy comes from those moments but even that seems to be passed over for more chances to get to scenes Lucy Punch’s character to act quirky and crazy which was the least interesting aspect of the central conflicts.
BAD TEACHER’s undoing comes down to shallow characters with short bursts of passable comedy. There are some good laughs to be had that make this film suitable as a rental but one that you’ll likely forget shortly after it’s over. Cameron Diaz has her moments and Jason Segal is always likable but very underutilized. As R rated comedies go I feel BAD TEACHER kind of drops the ball in both categories of hilarious comedy and raunchy fun, which left me a little disappointed, even if I did have a decent amount of minor chuckles to recommend this one as a lower tier space filler for your Netflix queue.