This is a rebuttal to our original Bad Teacher review. Give that a read here.
-Ms. Halsey embezzles money from students.
-Ms. Halsey takes bribes from students’ parents.
-Ms. Halsey smokes up and drinks during school hours.
-Ms. Halsey is a bad, bad, teacher.
-Ms. Halsey is the main character in a bad, bad, movie.
After Elizabeth Halsey’s gold digging engagement is called off she is forced to go back to teaching for another year. When Ms. Halsey is not showing films to students for educational purposes (including Scream), she’s looking for a wealthy man to be impregnated by. Halsey finds her target with the new attractive sub Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake) who’s comes with plenty of family money. She believes she can land Scott after she gets breast implants. Throw in a rivalry with the Ms. Perfect teacher in the aptly named Ms. Squirrel (Lucy Punch, who also gives it a college try to no avail) and there’s your plot. Sigh.
Lead Cameron Diaz is not to be blamed; she gives a committed turn as the impressively narcissistic middle school teacher who’s responsible for shaping our youth. I laughed twice in Bad Teacher, and both can be accounted to the terrific Jason Segal as the school’s gym teacher. Those laughs didn’t come from the writing but from Segal wringing out what he could with his delivery.
As hard as Diaz tries, a meandering script from Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg (responsible for the dud that is Year One) fails to graduate into the Apatow school of raunchy heart. Director Jake Kasdan (who had a great debut with the overlooked Zero Effect (1998)) absolutely loses control of this film by putting together a myriad of failing bits that string together instead of creating an engaging story.
I’ve got a pretty big man crush on the Timberlake, but I’m putting on the brakes just a bit after this performance. Word to the writers: If you’re going to write a song for Timberlake to do in your film, then don’t screw it up.
Bad writing. Bad writing. Bad writing. Writing 101: don’t keep vaguely eluding to a character’s (Ms. Squirrel’s) breakdown a few years back, foreshadowing what’s to come, and then never tell us or even better yet, show us what the original breakdown was to begin with!
Besides Ms. Halsey standing up one time for a teased student, there is no character arc to her depravity. Usually you want the audience to watch the protagonist, even if it is an anti-hero, grow by the end of the film so they can relate, but no sir, you won’t get that here. That would still be forgivable as long in the end it produced a funny result.
Bad Teacher flunks as a passable comedy, being grotesquely flat around each corner. It’s very disappointing with such a talented cast and a premise that’s primed for some good hard R. comedy nuggets. Bad Teacher couldn’t get by even in summer school and gets a D-.
Take a Drink: for every high five.
Take a Drink: for every F’bomb or version of it.
Down a Shot: whenever Amy Squirrel’s breakdown is brought up.