From the previews, Bad Teacher looked like it was going to follow the formula for crappy comedy. Drop person with some sort of extreme personality into a normal situation or job full of normal people and watch the monkey fling his or her poo. This style can be seen in such movies as School of Rock, Legally Blonde, Tommy Boy and most things with Adam Sandler. Bad Teacher though turns the genre on its ear by making its main monkey one step beyond the normal fool with luck and turning her into a complete sociopath.
Bad Teacher follows the exciting life of Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz, Green Hornet), a junior high school teacher and gold digger, as she tries to earn enough money to pay for breast enhancement so she can marry a rich husband. Ironically, teaching is one of her least favorite things to do and so she spends most of her class time getting over hangovers and scheming plans on how to get more money while showing movies to her class. This upsets her across the hall neighbor Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch, Dinner for Schmucks), an over-enthusiastic goody-goody teacher. Consequently, a rivalry ensues between the two. Thrown into the mix is Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake, Yogi Bear), a rich substitute teacher with whom both Diaz and Punch want to get their hands on, and Russell Gettis (Jason Segel, How I Met Your Mother), a down to earth gym teacher who is after Diaz.
The real funny part about this movie is how far Diaz is willing to go to get her surgery. She has no problem with masterfully lying, cheating, stealing and manipulating others to get her way. It’s really hard to blame her in this film either since nearly everyone else in the film seems to be a cross between an Andy Griffith character and a BYU student, so full of cookies and sunshine they almost induce vomiting. Diaz even manages to pick herself up a Milhouse type sidekick just by pure fact that she’s actually cool, if pure evil.
Usually in a film about teachers, a large chunk of the plot is devoted to the incredibly diverse classroom full of kids and some coming of age problem they’re dealing with. Bad Teacher once again takes a different route on this in keeping the kids almost completely out of the storyline. This adds focus of course to Diaz and the grown-ups issues, which keeps the plot tight and moving.
Sadly the biggest letdown of the film is the plot. Through most of the film the plot is interesting. Diaz’s antics and double-crosses keep the audience guessing and the character’s interplay is fast and fun to watch. The problem is that at the end of the film the entire plot just takes the main conflict in the movie and just solves it. No real reason – no growth, no change in the characters. Just “time for the happy ending” and done. It leaves this big hole in the film as to why the main character would just spontaneously change personalities for no real reason, and really lets the film down. It’s still worth seeing, but it’s hard to qualify it as a good movie.
Bad Teacher is rated R for language and an incredibly strange sex scene which leaves Timberlake in need of new pants.