Bad Teacher is about Elizabeth Halsey, a junior high teacher, who wants a fairly substantial amount of money (especially for a junior high teacher) so that she can acquire a pair of fake breasts. She believes her lack of cleavage is the reason she hasn’t been able to keep a man.
This is the state of Hollywood comedy.
Bad Teacher didn’t really play out like a movie as much as it resembled a series of comedy sketches strung together to fulfill the duration requirement of a feature film. And while it wasn’t as tiresome to watch as the average Kate Hudson vehicle, it certainly wasn’t the type of movie-watching experience that one could describe as a good time.
I wonder whether this would be one of those cases in which comedy does not ‘travel’ well because I am aware that this motion picture made a lot of money in the US.
I find it difficult to believe that scenes of an overweight teacher mumbling words, a dolphin-obsessed school principal, the overly perky rival teacher Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch) getting her repeated comeuppance, or the blatant (and unimaginative) ways in which Ms Halsey throws herself in the path of Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake) hoping to catch his romantic eye, made people laugh all over North America.
It certainly couldn’t have been the ‘sexy’ car wash scene (didn’t they do it better in a hundred other movies with younger, more attractive actresses?) or the fresher, but no more appealing dry humping scene.
Whatever it was that made Bad Teacher successful in its home court, I just didn’t get humour from it, on any level.
Cameron Diaz’s performance as the main character was a big problem for me. She doesn’t really sell her badass character. I wonder whether this is because there is a possibility that the real Ms Diaz is too far removed from the mean-spirited educator around whom this movie is centred. Ms Diaz may continue to be ‘in shape’ physically, but she isn’t easy on the eye. Especially not when she is cast in this light. In fact the only moment where her original appeal shines through is when she cracks a genuine-looking smile upon behind hit in the rear with a dodgeball. It would be nice if that version of Ms Diaz came out and played again.
So is Bad Teacher all bad? Almost, but not quite.
Jason Segel’s turn as Russell Gettis, the gym coach, while being another version of Marshall from How I Met Your Mother still manages to be entertaining. He is given a couple of good lines and in the few scenes he appears in, he manages to make his character live and breathe. The same goes for Lucy Punch’s portrayal of Halsey’s arch rival. High-pitched, overly perky and glad-chested, she still manages to imbue her character with a cartoon intensity that serves this narrative better than the writing.
To my mind, this movie’s opening weekend box office success stemmed from a really well cut trailer. Beyond that, I can only explain Bad Teacher’s success by blaming the global financial crisis. Perhaps people seeking amusement can afford little more than the ticket to a movie advertised as a ‘comedy’.
Now that is funny. Right?