“Bad Teacher” Movie Review

     In "Bad Teacher", another in a long line of this summer's raunchy comedy entries, Cameron Diaz stars as an unmotivated, foul mouthed, drug using junior high school teacher named Elizabeth Halsey who has just been dumped by her rich fiancé.  Her thinking is she is done teaching forever and will live a life of luxury, but she is sadly mistaken.  Her break up means she must come back the next year and teach again, this time with an even worse attitude. 

     I'm not sure if Cameron Diaz and the filmmakers think audiences will be shocked to hear Diaz say the F word or do drugs, but if that is what they were hoping for when it comes to shock value, they were mistaken. Bad Teacher plays surprisingly subtle and the laughs are few and far between. As is the case with many comedies, the best parts are in the trailer and after that your really not left with much else.  Yes, Cameron Diaz puts on short shorts and uses herself as a human towel to impress guys at a 7th grade car wash.  She also spends the entire movie obsessed with breast augmentation in order to impress a new substitute teacher, Scott, played in bland fashion by Justin Timberlake.  Their scene together in the third act is meant to be played as a gross out gag I suppose, but the bit falls flat with the audience.  It's just not funny.

     The very talented Jason Segel appears throughout as the school's gym teacher, Russell, but isn't used as a main player in the film's comedic scenes.  He's just there as Diaz's wannabe love interest and that's it.  What a waste.  The trailer showed what I thought would be a classic debate between Russell and one of the kids over who was better, Jordan or LeBron, but the scene is exactly as it is shown in the trailer, nothing more. The children in the film show very little personality and are practically extras in the classroom.  For a movie that takes place in a school, the kids really don't have much to do.  The focus is entirely on the adults in a plot that probably could've had any setting really.

     Ironically, Elizabeth's nemesis in the film, a teacher across the hall named Amy Squirrel, also steals scenes from Diaz for the entire film.  As played by Lucy Punch, her character regularly serves as the lone bright spot in the film with a unique brand of physical comedy coupled with the best lines of the movie. A memorable scene has her meeting the school's principal in the one place he had hoped to have privacy, yet she's so worked up by Elizabeth that she just can't wait.  It's fortunate her character is a strong comedic presence because if not for her the film would've been a complete failure.  The rest of the supporting cast is fine, but they can’t save the film.

     I'm all for the charm Cameron Diaz brings to comedies.  If your looking for the likable, yet gullible Diaz from film's like "There's Something About Mary" then you won't be impressed.  Just think, in that film we as an audience fell out of our seats when she utilized Ben Stiller's "hair gel" in her own hair.  That was funny!  Unfortunately, all that Diaz does in Bad Teacher is cuss and smoke dope, which isn't funny at all.  I can't help but to make the comparison with Billy Bob Thorton's character in "Bad Santa".  That film; however, was a novelty.  Bad Teacher is a sad retread of an overused idea. GRADE: D