Bad Teacher (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner15/06/2011

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 92 mins

Diaz does what she can and there's some strong support work but overall this is a disappointing, surprisingly unfunny comedy that fails thanks to a lazy, poorly structured plot, an uneven tone and a refusal to commit to its basic premise.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jake Kasdan, Bad Teacher stars Cameron Diaz as Elizabeth, a gold-digging slacker who's forced to return to the teaching job she just left after her rich fiancé cottons on to her ulterior motives and dumps her. However, it isn't long before Elizabeth has set her sights on monied new teacher Scott (Justin Timberlake) and she decides she's going to need a boob job if she's going to have a hope of snaring him.

When Elizabeth's sweet-natured colleague (Phyllis Smith) informs her that there's a cash bonus for the highest test scores, she decides it's time to stop showing her class Inspirational Teacher Movies and start actually teaching them ...until she discovers a way to con a gullible test official (Thomas Lennon) into giving her the papers instead. Meanwhile, she has to dodge the advances of dopey gym teacher Russell (Jason Segel), keep the oblivious principal (John Michael Higgins) on her good side and stay out of the way of perky, overachieving fellow teacher Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), who's becoming increasingly obsessed with taking her down.

The Good
Diaz is always watchable and she does her best here, but Elizabeth never really convinces as a fully rounded character, perhaps because the gold-digging and the lazy, boozing, pot-smoking elements of her personality seem fundamentally opposed. Similarly, Timberlake's character is both underwritten and underwhelming, though there's strong comic support from Smith (a regular on The American Office), Segel (underplaying it to good effect) and particularly Lucy Punch, who has a nice line in physical comedy, snags all the best lines and basically walks away with the film.

The Bad
The film's biggest problem (contrary to its admittedly hilarious trailer) is that it just isn't very funny – there are vaguely amused smiles where there should be big belly laughs. This is largely down to the script, which opts for a lazy, poorly structured plot that feels more like a series of not-very-funny sketches and is extremely inconsistent. By the same token, Kasdan struggles to find the right tone and the film can't decide whether it wants to be a full-on, dark-edged black comedy or a warm-hearted romcom.

Worth seeing?
Bad Teacher is one of those films where if you've seen the trailer, you've already seen all the good jokes. Save your money and see Bridesmaids next week instead.

Film Trailer

Bad Teacher (15)
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Content updated: 26/04/2019 14:52

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