Bad Teacher as reviewed in The Phantom Tollbooth

School may be out for the summer but class is completely in session at the Cineplex

 School may be out for the summer but class is completely in session at the Cineplex. But I use the word “class” lightly in reference to the adult comedy, BAD TEACHER. It is crude, politically incorrect, and at times sketch comedy in nature; so why was I laughing so much? I guess my funny bone has a weakness for absurdity. 

Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) finds herself back behind the desk of a Jr. High classroom after her fiancé gives her the boot. She cares nothing for her students and is working only to save up money for breast implants. When a new, well off, substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake) shows up Elizabeth can’t wait to get her meat hooks in him. But also eyeing him is Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), their very popular, though slightly imbalanced, co-worker.

Though I prefer Diaz in roles like The Holiday and even Charlie’s Angels I appreciate her effort in this one. She can pull off foul mouthed grit with ease. Or at least she makes it look easy. Whether cursing at students or degrading the Gym Teacher (Jason Segel) the expletives roll off her tongue like butter off a hot roll. Halsey says what she is thinking and has no tact about her. Diaz had fun with that and delivered a memorable character.


The issue though is in the writing. This film feels choppy in places as if each scene were written as a standalone sketch piece. Something to pull out and make a promo clip of. When placed back to back there is very little in the way of synergy or cohesiveness. We get a nugget to laugh at and then they set up the next gag. That is fine if that is what you are looking for. But I would like to have had a little more on the way of character interaction.

Diaz carries this film, obviously, but she has a lot of support as well. Punch comes close to stealing every scene she is in and certainly is a comedienne to keep your eye on. I would love to see her on SNL or even a weekly TV sit com. She plays psycho with flair. Those who saw Dinner for Schmucks understand her abilities. Here she tones it down a bit which only makes the nuttiness creepier. Timberlake too is spot on as a nerdy, slightly timid teacher. He has a way of putting pride aside and just laying it all out there. This openness to be laughed at makes Justin a good supporter in films like this. Segel? This was not a stretch for him at all and though he delivers there is nothing surprising.

Bad Teacher is rated R for sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use. It is a 100% adult comedy. Again I use the word “adult” lightly. You have to have quite the sophomoric mindset to enjoy it. But if you are willing to check out for 92 minutes and laugh at the most inappropriate things then this might be your ticket. I give it 3 out of 5 detentions. I liked it for what it was but if I had paid to see it I might feel a little different.

Matt Mungle

Review copyright 2011 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.