Posted on 6/26/11 08:17 PM
After watching Jake Kasdan's 2007 effort, the very funny, very underrated, and very overlooked Judd Apatow produced "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" again a couple of weeks ago, I was actually looking forward to "Bad Teacher" this week, a film that I knew would be full of bad taste, but with a little more humor, wit, and intelligence than say, an Adam Sandler film.
Unfortunately, Apatow had no part in the making of this film, and whether that was a good thing or not, this film failed to meet up with any of my expectations.
Cameron Diaz stars as Elizabeth Halsey, a woman who has just finished her year as the teacher to a bunch of seventh-graders, and is leaving her job in the hopes of marrying her wealthy fiance'. But upon arriving home, finds her future husband and his mother sitting on the couch with plans of their own.
Fast-forward three months later, and we find Halsey back teaching at a job she despises, co-workers she hardly knows (or wants to know), and with kids that she decides to educate with movies that teach the priorities of higher-learning ("Stand & Deliver", "Lean on Me", "Dangerous Minds", etc.).
Soon, opportunities arrive where she finds she can get rich off money-making schemes that will do nothing but harm those around her, and quite possibly give dozens of laughs to the people watching this movie.
Unfortunately for us, the film's only real laughs are the ones shown in the movies trailers.
In sharing a vaguely similiar title with 2003's brilliant "Bad Santa", "Teacher" shares nothing else -- none of the dark humor and sadistic charm that "Santa's" director, Terry Zwigoff, brought to his film; none of the chemistry that existed among Billy Bob Thornton and his crew; and especially no emotional pay-off that showed that such a hopeless case would have met any sort of redemption.
Diaz's Halsey is not only selfish, but frigid, unbearable, hardly funny, and just plain unlikable. And that might possibly have worked fine if any of the rest of the cast weren't unlikable either -- Justin Timberlake tries his best, and almost succeeds as the kind-hearted yet nerdy new teacher (almost resembling Mr. Schuester from television's "Glee") who's taken advantage of, but he's just reduced to a secondary character dragged down to the same repellent level as Halsey.
And Lucy Punch's take as the friendly and timid teacher soon turns into a character of such spite and paranoia, you actually stop caring for her mid-way through the film.
"Teacher's" only saving grace is Jason Segel's mostly restrained performance as a gym coach hoping to score a date with Halsey. He loses his temper every once in a while, to hilarious effect, but he's not used enough to save the film from its own shortcomings.
"Bad Teacher" could have been so much more, and even succeeds at times (one scene involving the "warning" of a teacher testifying against Halsey, as well as the dry-humping sequence between Timberlake and Diaz and its aftermath had me laughing so hard, I could hardly catch my breath), but in the end, fails in its overall attack on good, as well as bad taste.