Had “Bad Teacher” truly embraced its crude concept and challenged the outrageousness of, say, “Bad Santa,” it may have been a comic success.
However, for as much naughty humor that writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg inject into the screenplay, “Bad Teacher” is just not bad enough. Granted, anything this funny certainly escapes a failing grade, but it is also far from being head of the class.
Cameron Diaz stars as Elizabeth, a foul-mouthed, ruthless and all-around inappropriate woman who must return to her day job as a teacher upon being dumped by her fiance. She is determined to skate through the school year by showing movies to her students while getting both drunk and high behind her desk.
When a rich and handsome substitute teacher named Scott (Justin Timberlake) shows up on the scene, Elizabeth becomes determined to win him over. However, Scott seems to only have eyes for Elizabeth’s overly energetic – and relatively busty – colleague Amy (Lucy Punch) who will stop at nothing to destroy the lazy teacher.
So, while fighting off the advances of a sarcastic and irreverent gym teacher named Russell (Jason Segel), Elizabeth hatches plan after plan to make enough money for breast enlargement surgery and therefore take one step closer to her next meal ticket. But between embezzlement and cheating, Elizabeth gets an education of her own.
The best parts of “Bad Teacher” feature the film’s supporting cast, such as “The Office’s” Phyllis Smith and “Modern Family’s” Eric Stonestreet, both of whose talents are generally wasted as they are ridiculously underused in favor of ensuring that the unimpressive Diaz receive as much screen time as possible.
Adding to the problem is the strange simplicity of the entire motion picture. Like some of the feature-length films based on “Saturday Night Live” characters, “Bad Teacher” comes across as a series of sketches strung together by a storyline that is not strong enough to hold the weight of its humor.
And it also seems to be lacking in heart – something that would have easily remedied the looseness of it all. However, “Bad Teacher” may still be worth seeing if you are in the mood for a crass comedy. After all, how often does a movie come out with a main character whose motivations rest squarely on making enough money for breast enlargement surgery?
If only the rest of the flick were as shameless as that, this critic would have been compelled to crown it with a dunce cap – the highest honor when it comes to a movie like this.
“Bad Teacher” (R – 92 minutes) is now playing at movie theaters throughout the Valley. Visit FirstLook.com for specific showtimes.
Listen to Joseph J. Airdo’s “Movie Maverick” radio segment, every Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. during “The Daily Blender with Jeffry O’Brien” on KBSZ – NBC 1260 AM and 96.1 FM.