GG at the Movies – Bad Teacher
I walked into Bad Teacher with mixed feelings. On one hand, I predicted I’d be appalled and disgusted at the raunchy fun being made of my profession. On the other hand, I thought I might laugh hysterically at the exaggerated portrayal of academia. Well, I walked out with neither extreme; instead, Bad Teacher left me somewhere in the middle. While there was a handful of laugh-out-loud lines and one or two silly moments that probably every teacher who watches the movie will chuckle, “Ha, I can relate!,” I didn’t leave the theater wanting to happily re-cap every moment.
Taken lightly as the writers want us to take it, Bad Teacher can be viewed as a witty satire on conventional suburban, educational values. Diaz’s character’s transformation from heartless gold-digger to caring teacher is less than believable, but for the endless potshots that the writers take at shallow, status-seeking suburbanites, this shortfall in characterization can be somewhat forgiven. A fun fact is that the screenplay was written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, two of the former staff writers from The Office. That explains the striking similarity between the dialogue of gym teacher Russell (Jason Segel) and Jim from The Office.
Those looking for a sweet, silly Cameron Diaz character we’ve seen in the past are in for a rude awakening. Elizabeth Halsey’s (Cameron Diaz) inappropriate, crude and downright mean actions erase memories of precious Princess Fiona of Shrek or naive Mary from There’s Something About Mary. Actually, not a single character in Bad Teacher can truly be categorized as a “good” person. You’ve got your idealistically idiotic young teachers, Amy Squirrell (Lucy Punch) and Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake). You’ve got your hardened “bad” teachers, Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) and Russell Gettis (Jason Segal), and your cowardly admins (John Michael Higgins) and your corrupt test admins (Reno 911‘s Thomas Lennon). You’ve got your bully students and superficial parents (a bunch of kids plus Molly Shannon.) Hmmmmm . . . . . Ultimately, with the exception of Judy Punch, the actors don’t offer much oomph on the screen. I kept looking for hints of chemistry between former flames Diaz and Timberlake and came up short – even their (clear throat) dry scene was dry. Punch,on the other hand, is so obnoxious and irritating in this film that she literally made me cringe!
Grading Girl gives Bad Teacher a C+ for predictable punches mixed with mediocre acting. The writers, actors and producers didn’t study hard enough for Bad Teacher to meet expectations. Ultimately, Bad Teacher does not provide the comic relief of summer’s other big name comedies, Bridesmaids and The Hangover Part II, but if you’re looking for a 90 minute escape from reality, it’s worth the price of the ticket – whether or not you’re a teacher.