Director: Jake Kasdan
Writers: Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Lucy Punch, Jason Segel,
Rated: R for sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use
Synopsis from IMDb:
When her wealthy fiancé breaks it off, gold digger Elizabeth Halsey returns to middle school: she's an awful teacher but wants to save for breast-implant surgery. She brightens when Scott, a new teacher, turns out to be rich, and she stops showing films and sleeping in class when told there's a bonus for the teacher whose class scores highest on the state exam. Her competition for Scott and the bonus is cheery and tightly wound Amy. Amy digs for dirt on Elizabeth who cheats her way toward Scott's bed and the money. Honesty with students seems to be her only skill. She ignores Russell, a droll gym teacher, who looks on. Will she succeed with Scott and get those new breasts? Written by <firstname.lastname@example.org>
With a 36% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I wasn't expecting a whole lot from Bad Teacher, a movie that was savagely blasted by critics and audiences alike, but I gamely sat down and watched it when it first came out on DVD a couple of years ago and I may have seen it-ahem-two or three times now that it is on Starz. Bad Teacher isn't a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination. It is riddled with cliches and the main character Elizabeth Halsey (Diaz) is unpleasant and single-handedly sets the feminist movement back at least a decade. But in spite of its flaws, I can't help but find this movie funny. Although, I do sometimes have the sense of humor of a 14-year old boy...
Elizabeth Halsey is a gold digger. The movie starts at the end of the school year and she is thrilled to be leaving the middle school where she has taught for exactly one year to play the role of a kept woman to her rich fiance. So she is shocked to find her bags packed and by the front door when she gets home and her fiance and his mother waiting to let her know that the wedding is off. Three months later, Elizabeth has no choice but to go back to teaching. A job she is, to put it nicely, ill-suited for. She couldn't care less about her students, opting to show them movies daily (from Stand and Deliver to Scream). Her bottom desk drawer has a false bottom that she keeps filled with little bottles of booze, pills, and weed. Her class is void of any decoration and she doesn't know a single one of her students' names.
Across the hall from Elizabeth is Amy Squirrel (Punch). The polar opposite of Elizabeth, Amy's room is bright and cheery and Amy wants nothing more than to be a good teacher and reach out to her students. The women have one thing in common though: They are both set on reeling in the new substitute teacher, Scott, played with dorky zeal by Justin Timberlake. Scott is heir to a famous watch company and Elizabeth, seeing dollar signs, sets her sights on him immediately, only to be disappointed when he chooses Amy instead. Deciding he must have chosen Amy because she has bigger breasts, Elizabeth vows to get a boob job and needs to come up with $10,000.
Funding raising? That can only mean one thing: the obligatory car wash! This montage is full of scenes with Diaz slithering across the hoods of cars in tight, extremely short cut-offs and spraying herself with the hose. This was one of the bigger missteps the film makes, in my opinion. So cheap. Then she finds out that the teacher whose students do the best on the mandatory state test gets a fairly hefty bonus. She quickly changes her game plan, going from the lenient teacher who shows movies every day to the teacher who uses dodge ball to get her students to learn--yeah, she's still a bad teacher...even when she's teaching.
Will she raise enough money to get the surgery or will she realize that her body is perfect the way it is (for real) and that the right guy for her is actually the cute, funny gym teacher she is pals with?
Even with this thin plot line, Bad Teacher does manage to be pretty funny due to its hilarious cast. So many amazing people show up in this movie. Phyllis Smith (from TV's The Office) plays a fellow teacher, John Michael Higgins (Best in Show) plays the principal, Eric Stonestreet (Cameron from Modern Family) plays her roommate. Plus, you really can't go wrong with Timberlake and Seagel, both who are extremely funny in their own right. And I've always been a fan of Cameron Diaz. She almost always makes good choices film-wise, and I appreciate the fact that she seems to be allowing herself to grow older gracefully. Her face moves and she has some wrinkles around her eyes. This just makes her more beautiful in my opinion. She looks like how women in their older 30s are supposed to (if they are drop dead gorgeous naturally, of course). Everyone involved is funny and charming in their own way, making the laughs pretty effortless.
Diaz and Timberlake have to pull off a pretty embarrassing sex scene that's just awkward to watch. I'm always curious about the behind the scene relationships on movies (and shows). The two were a couple for a few years back in the mid 2000s and I wonder how awkward filming a scene like this--and really the whole movie-- was. I remember when this movie came out that Diaz said it wasn't a big deal to work with Timberlake and I believe she was even the one who suggested him for the role. I honestly don't have any major ex-boyfriends. I've been with my hubby for years and while I had boyfriends in high school and in my early college years, none of my relationships really lasted that long. I'd imagine filming a movie with somebody that you were with for years must be kind of awkward.
Overall, I really did like Bad Teacher. As some of you know, I'm about to embark on my semester of student teaching (in two weeks--eep!), so I'm naturally drawn to movies that focus on the profession and love lines like: I thought I chose teaching for all the right reasons--summers off and no accountability (or something like that). Again, the movie is far from perfect. There are definitely some eye-rolling moments, but they are far fewer than the funny ones.