POSTED BY MICHAEL A. SMITH, June 23, 2011 Share
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake and Jason Segel
Directed by: Jake Kasdan
Running time: 1 hour 32 mins
It’s said that, despite the low pay, teaching is a great job. You get to mold young lives, inspire kids and, most important, you get your summers off! Liz Halsey (Diaz) has just celebrated her last day of teaching and is looking forward to a life of luxury with her wealthy boyfriend. But when things don’t go as she planned, she finds herself back in the fall, once again tutoring the young adults of tomorrow. With an attitude.
Mildly amusing, “Bad Teacher” is a hit or miss comedy that is thankfully blessed with a talented cast. Besides Diaz, Timberlake (the new sub), and Segel (the gym coach), the school includes such personalities as Miss Squirrel (Lucy Punch), Miss Davies (“The Office’s” Phyllis Smith and principal Snur (John Michael Higgins), who has a passion for everything Dolphin. The fish, not the football team. As both Liz and Miss Squirrel vie for Timberlake’s affection, Liz ups the ante by deciding her life would be better with bigger breasts. Needing to find the money to pay for the new boobs, Liz learns that each year the teacher whose class does the best on the standardized test gets a nice cash bonus. Bingo! Gone are the daily class movie screenings (among the titles Liz shows the cast are such educational classics as “Stand and Deliver,” “Lean On Me,” “Dangerous Minds” and…..”Scream”). Now the kids are reading 100 pages of “To Kill A Mockingbird” each night and taking quizzes every day. Some of the proceedings are fairly funny. But what slows the film down is the occasional bit of “adult” humor that seems to be randomly dropped into a scene. Some of it is humorous. But other bits seems to have been adlibbed on set with no one paying attention. And of course, the big question is how in the hell did Liz ever become a teacher?
The story is paced well by director Kasdan, who did “adult” comedy much better with “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.” The three lead actors all seem to be having fun. Segel doesn’t have a lot to do but Timberlake continues to impress me with his on screen work. Diaz does her best to make us care about Liz but she’s saddled by a script that’s purely, as I said above, hit or miss. Screenwriters Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg fare better here than with their first film, “Year One.” But like I said in my review of that film, if these guys are truly penning “Ghostbusters III,” they have a lot to learn.
This Week's Movie Review of "Bad Teacher" is ©2011 by Mike Smith. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.
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