R-rated comedies are really starting to all feel exactly the same. The same argument can more than likely be made for any genre, but R-rated comedies seem to be the guiltiest of mimicking that one gem in its arsenal that did well a few years ago. Avatar is probably one of the reasons that 75% of movies are offered in the 3D format, nearly every superhero film does well thanks to comic book fans, and Pixar and Dreamworks pretty much rule the animated film market. When it comes to adult comedies, we have the likes of The Hangover and Judd Apatow films to blame for their success and nearly every R-rated comedy since has either felt like it’s been marketed towards fans of those films or copies their formula entirely. That’s one of the reasons Bad Teacher isn’t able to achieve being more than a decent comedy; it’s never really able to walk along on its own and piggybacks on other well known films and TV shows to try and get a laugh.
Do any of you reading this watch “South Park”? Did you ever see the episode where Mr. Garrison decides that he wants to be a man again? While Garrison is off dealing with that, Cartman becomes the teacher. He lets all the kids cheat on the test, they all test higher than the school ever has in the past, and he’s sent to one of the most troubled schools in the county to try and help the students there. He disguises himself as Mr. Cartmanez (How do I reach these keeeeeeds?!) and teaches them how to cheat to succeed. Bad Teacher almost channels this story verbatim. Elisabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) disguises herself to meet and seduce the man who’s in charge of guiding the state exams. Once she knows what’s on the test, she teaches her students only what’s on the test so that she can receive the $5700 bonus. Meanwhile the rest of the film feels like a watered down version of Bad Santa if it was centered on a woman and was set in a middle school instead of a mall. Ms. Halsey hates teaching and mostly has her class sit through movies daily since she’s off drinking every night, smoking weed in her car, and generally just not giving a crap about any of her students or the faculty she’s surrounded by.
The cast is able to play off of each other pretty well. Cameron Diaz does seemingly slide into the bad teacher role with ease and her on screen chemistry with Justin Timberlake is more than likely due to their former relationship, but results in a few memorable scenes in the end. Lucy Punch is so high strung, energetic, and perky that you basically just want to knock her down and punch her in the face repeatedly just to get her to shut up by the time the movie is over, so I guess that means she played the role of Amy Squirrel to perfection. “The Office”‘s Phyllis Smith is pretty much the same character she is on the show with just a little more R-rated content added to her resume. The highlights of the cast have to be Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake though. Segel is the one guy in the movie that’ll probably make you snicker the loudest while Timberlake has a few scenes (one in particular) that is almost really funny with Cameron Diaz. The song he sings is so ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh. Whoever that kid was that kept giving Amy Squirrel that look of open mouthed disbelief in her classroom was brilliant, as well.
The storyline really snowballs into absurdity as the movie progresses though. You’re basically rooting for the villain the entire movie. A selfish individual who puts herself before everyone somehow gets away with basically being a drunken whore, who breaks the law a countless number of times, treats her students and co-workers like garbage, and keeps her job without learning a lesson throughout the entire process. It comes off like she has to settle for less by the time it’s all said and done. It’s pretty crazy.
Bad Teacher is a fairly mediocre adult comedy. It tries to reel in viewers with its very open relationship with the raunchiness featured in the film, but it all feels really tame in the end and isn’t nearly as over the top as The Hangover Part II or even Your Highness. The problem is there isn’t much that separates Bad Teacher from other R-rated comedies out there. It feels very similar and run of the mill. The movie would probably be a waste of time if it wasn’t for Jason Segel, Justin Timberlake, and the staring kid in Amy Squirrel’s class. While Bad Teacher is amusing at times, it isn’t outrageously laugh out loud funny and mostly feels like a rehash of something you’ve already seen.
Sources: imdb.com, cinema.theiapolis.com