Bad Teacher finds Cameron Diaz starring as Elizabeth Halsey, a middle school teacher who is kissing public education goodbye for a life of luxury. But, when her engagement to a rich man goes awry, Diaz must return to her middle school and resume her life mission of finding a wealthy husband.
The film establishes its tone from its first seconds. Diaz recalls the feel of There’s Something About Mary as we are introduced to her. Yet, Elizabeth is no Mary. She is not kind, giving or gregarious. Ms. Halsey, as her stunned students call her, only has become a teacher as an ends to a means.
Justin Timberlake scores a tie with Lucy Punch in the stealing scenes from the star category. Yes, Cameron Diaz is at her career best, but what is so fantastic about Bad Teacher, is there are scenes with Punch and Timberlake where the audiences’ eyes actually are drawn away from Diaz in all her devilish best. With all of JT’s excellent work on Saturday Night Live, his performance should not be such a surprise given his innate comic talents.
The UK native Lucy Punch stands her own opposite Diaz and manages to bring audience appreciation at the beginning of the film, despite the fact that she may be more of a Bad Teacher than Diaz. Punch packs a comic punch in her role as a fellow teacher who is on to Diaz’s antics to get ahead with little or no effort.
With the success of Bridesmaids, Bad Teacher should fare quite well. It is the cinematic time for funny women behaving badly — whether it’s Diaz, Kristin Wiig or Chelsea Handler on any given day, the age of mistresses in movie mayhem hilarity is thankfully upon us.
Like Bridesmaids, there is a bounty of bodacious humor. Yet that is where the two films’ similarity begins and ends. Bad Teacher teaches its audience right from the start that Diaz’s character is not going to apologize for her actions. Therein lies the brashness of the humor that fits Cameron like a glove.
Bad Teacher’s supporting players are also equally up to the task. From Jason Segel as the film’s voice of reason, The Office star Phyllis Smith as a teacher compatriot of Diaz and principal John Michael Higgins — Bad Teacher’s cast knows to just let it all hang out.
In a summer movie season when comedies are hard to come by and films with explosions and very little exposition dominate, it’s comforting in a raunchy way, to fully embrace Bad Teacher.
Bad Teacher review
Out of five stars…