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She Just Doesn’t Give an “F”...and Neither Do We

Movie Review: Bad Teacher (2011)
Summary: A foul-mouthed junior high teacher, after being dumped by her sugar-daddy, begins to woo a colleague—a move that puts her in competition against a well-loved teacher.
Spoilers: none

The obsession with rebellious, do-it-their-own-way teachers with hot bodies is the featured attraction in the 2011 comedy, Bad Teacher, where Cameron Diaz plays “Elizabeth Haley,” a superficial floozy on the hunt for a new sugar-daddy.

Being divorced by her latest money machine of a husband, she finds herself having to teach to fulfill her dream of getting breast implants. Her careless, selfish, and unconcerned prattling around at John Adams Middle School sets her against
“Amy Squirrel” (Lucy Punch), a repeat teacher of the year, both of whom are competing for the affections of “Scott Delacorte” (Justin Timberlake) as Elizabeth perceives him to be another potential goldmine.

Meanwhile, easygoing gym teacher, “Russell Gettis” (Jason Segel) seeks to win over Elizabeth, but his efforts are in vain with her only goal to raise enough money for her selfish quest.

And your efforts might be in vain, too, if you plan on going to see this movie with the hopes of enjoying it. This slipshod comedy, with its repetitively misplaced humor and lack of respect for both its audience and itself, is cursed as a mishandled effort that may cause some viewers to want to give it an A for effort, but certainly not for anything else.

The cartoonish characters that plague the entire film act like amateur improvers with little respect for their parts. We never respect them because their comedy, much like their performances, are a suck-fest serving of mostly bad material. The intelligent script had potential, but that potential was blown early on with cheaply added-in sexual innuendos and loser humor.

And the problem is never the pacing, but the appeal. The characters are made so cheesy and unlikable that even when we would laugh, the moments run by and are lost. While the performance of Lucy Punch is perhaps the most dedicated next to Diaz’s, Segel lazily carries around his normal level of charm in a part he apparently had little enthusiasm for. An always-charismatic Timberlake and John Michael Higgins (as “Principle Snur”) do their parts to try and make this movie attractive. Sadly, it isn’t.

Yes, there are a few funny moments and some called-for scenes that take advantage of the movie’s amusingly curious premise, but this doesn’t do enough to make the viewing worthwhile. Diaz and Segel have about as much chemistry as two couch cushions, but the energy needed to make anything feel like it could happen between them must have already been invested in goofiness, as everyone seems to have had loads of fun making the movie with the exception of a few.

But you and audiences in general might do yourselves a favor and look elsewhere for fun if that’s what you’re looking for. 2 stars for the floundering and largely unfunny, Bad Teacher.

(JH)

Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: R (for sexual content, suggestiveness, nudity, language, and some drug use)
Director: Jake Kasdan
Starring: “Elizabeth Halsey” (Cameron Diaz), “Amy Squirrel” (Lucy punch), “Russell Gettis” (Jason Segel), “Scott Delacorte” (Justin Timberlake), “Principle Snur” (John Michael higgins), “Garrett Tiara” (Matthew J. Evans)
Genre: Comedy
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