Review: 'Bad Teacher' Is A Victim Of A Script That Doesn't Rise To Its Own Occasion
When the word ‘Bad’ winds up as the first word on a film’s title, many feelings can be generated—especially when the particular film happens to be a comedy. Back in 2003 Bad Santa turned out to be a film which was marketed with such an underrated attitude, however, interest peaked and truth is it turned out to be a film rough around all edges, but so cleverly produced…to date it remains a classic within the comedy genre. Sharp, straight-forward, edgy to the core and a pretty damn good story to follow portrayed by some of the best (at the time not-so-big) ACTORS who owned ALL of their roles!
Fast forward to 2011, and another film with the word ‘Bad’ at the beginning of its title is released. It’s a comedy, has what I think is a pretty good cast, but lacked on levels Bad Santa supremely shined with. What was it? The ability to just let go…Bad Teacher isn’t a bad movie, but one is lured into this mind-frame of expecting a balls out comedic film that won’t hold back on any punches…and when scenes which start off awesome or perhaps has a vibe going which happens to be engaging and seems to have an “it factor”…for reasons unknown, it never really goes there. I mean, for all the misbehavior debacles Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg unleashed, the duo’s approach was the perfect example of an empty calorie intake.
Bad Teacher has a simple premise to follow…and here’s why…Some teachers just don't give an ‘F.’ For example, there's Elizabeth (Diaz). She's foul-mouthed, ruthless, and inappropriate. She drinks, she gets high, and she can't wait to marry her meal ticket and get out of her horrible day job. When she's dumped by her fiancé, she sets her plan in motion to win over a rich, handsome substitute (Timberlake) - competing for his affections with an overly energetic colleague, Amy (Punch). When Elizabeth also finds herself fighting off the advances of a sarcastic, irreverent gym teacher (Segel), the consequences of her wild and outrageous schemes give her students, her coworkers, and even herself an education like no other!
The rundown is simple!
With a cast including ex-lovers Diaz and Timberlake, I have to admit there were moments where I sat there wondering exactly when this film was shot, and if it was shot post their break-up, how awkward must it have been for them to be sharing scenes which included lots of moments that perhaps they shared themselves, only on a much personal scale. With lines like “I’m gonna suck your d**k like I’m mad at it!” being released so cleverly and convincingly…and that one bizarre dry-hump…it seemed obvious once the stakes were raised, the conscious decision to not overly-offend become apparent.
On the flip side: The movie’s up and running moments are exposed with Segel, who happens to the movie’s thief as he steals every scene! One of his many funny antics is how he keeps flirting with Elizabeth despite her constant rejections. I also have to admit although Diaz and Timberlake are set up to be the film’s stars, aside from Segel’s strengths, I found myself enjoying Lucy Punch as the overachieving social studies teacher! She kept it simple, subtle and never ever tried over-playing the role of ‘Amy.’
Bad Teacher is a victim of a script that doesn’t quite rise to its own occasion. It pointed in the right direction from time to time, but I’d like to know what was the process that went into script meetings where I’m sure someone was fighting to go all the way, however, halted by some “genius” looking to kiss corporate a$$ and NOT overly offend…offensive comedy can be an acquired taste, but as a lover of films (like billions of others), I always find myself rooting for the movie which raise eye-brows and stick to its purpose, rather than those who appease the MPAA!
I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it, but if anything, I personally feel this film was marketed wrong!
GRADE: C / GENRE: Comedy
RATED: R / RUN TIME: 1 Hr. 30 Min.
STARRING: Cameron Diaz, Lucy Punch, Jason Segel, Justin Timberlake, John Michael Higgins
DIRECTOR: Jake Kasdan
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