Review – Bad Teacher

Everyone remembers that teacher from school that didn’t give a toss. I had a teacher like that. I would always ask myself during lessons, why did Mr. Johnston decide to become a teacher? Later I discovered he did it to get his kids through private school at a discounted price, while coaxing other teachers into investing money on the share market with mixed results. He told me that himself while buying me a beer after I snuck into a pub during the end of my schooling years…I was only 17.

The strange thing about teachers that operate on the fringe of the system is, usually they are very good educators. They cut the crap, get to the point and focus on results. They don’t sugarcoat what it’s like in the real world and aren’t afraid to speak their minds. The high school teachers that do well are the ones that aren’t afraid to throw attitude back at students, fighting fire with fire.

Considering the universal experience of the dodgy educator, ‘Bad Teacher’ should be a comedy goldmine, but unfortunately it’s an asbestos covered comedy copper mine.

‘Bad Teacher’ tells the story of Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) who is biding her time slacking off as a school teacher, waiting to marry a millionaire and setting herself up as a trophy wife. When rich substitute teacher Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake) shows up, she sets her sights on him as her ticket out of the school system, while knocking back the advances of gym teacher Russell (Jason Segel).

‘Bad Teacher’ is a painfully unfunny film. It’s a strange feeling to watch a film that is pitched as a comedy, and not laugh once during the entire film. ‘Bad Teacher’ sets of to be a dark comedy, but soon it becomes clear that the filmmakers are playing it safe, with a reliance on toilet humor and characters getting hit in the groin.

The real shame of this film is the wasted support cast, who are all great comedic actors. Segel, Lynn Davies, John Michael Higgins, Eric Stonestreet and Thomas Lennon are given nothing to do. The only support used effectively is Lucy Punch, who steals a lot of scenes and comes out of this film unscathed.
Diaz coasts her way through, wasting what should have been a great role for her. Her character is an anti-hero who should have the audience cringing and laughing at everything she does. Instead we get a bland character with nothing more than a foul mouth and a world view that money and a set of fake boobs is the key to happiness.

Also, Justin Timberlake has just begun carving out a career in Hollywood and I’m already sick of it. He got lucky with ‘The Social Network’ but this film proves he hasn’t got legs as an actor. Studios and agents, please stop giving him roles where at some point he either sings or dances. If you’re going to do that, please get cinemas to stock vomit bags.

‘Bad Teacher’ is a disaster because it aims to low with the comedy and there are no excuses considering the writing talent of Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg. Both writers have kicked huge goals working on the US television series ‘The Office’ but they haven’t been able to convert the success to the big screen. Dark comedy only works if you’re willing to take huge risks and poop jokes just don’t fit. ‘Bad Teacher’ isn’t worthy of a detention, not even a suspension. It’s worthy of a full blown expulsion.


Sony Pictures

The Popcorn Junkie