Review: No Apple For “Bad Teacher”

In this, the year of the female-driven, hard-R comedy, the women are proving to be just as capable as the men at making us laugh. Which makes this entry particularly disappointing.

Because while it has its moments, "Bad Teacher" isn't nearly as funny as it should've been considering the onscreen talent at its disposal.

The film stars Cameron Diaz as Elizabeth Halsey, a gold-digging middle-school teacher who wants to save up enough money to buy herself a pair of breast implants to help her land Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake), the rich new substitute at her school. But while Elizabeth is busy fending off the advances of Russell (Jason Segel) the gym teacher, Scott's crushing on Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), Elizabeth's goodie-two-shoes arch-enemy.

Raunchy humor is a tough business that requires a finely tuned sense for where the line is between genuinely funny and just stupid or gross, and director Jake Kasdan oversteps on more than one occasion. For example: Showing us a slack-jawed teen staring at Diaz dressed like a stripper as she writhes on the sudsy hood of a car is one thing--panning down to show us the bulge from his erection? That's just stupid.

The film's sense of romance and morality is as wrongheaded as many of its jokes. Screenwriting duo Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupinsky (who previously collaborated on "Year One") want us to believe that Elizabeth can change from a despicable human being into a decent person via the simple act of giving her bra to a 7th-grade boy. Her transformation—the entire film, in fact—is so anticlimactic, that when the end comes you almost can’t believe that the film is over.

The biggest crime is that whoever edited the trailer for "Bad Teacher" used 70% of Diaz's best lines from the film. Otherwise, she does the best she can with the rest of script, but that ain't much.

Timberlake and Punch are the film's biggest disappointments as the hyper-bubbly couple that becomes the bane of Elizabeth's existence. Timberlake has proven himself to be a talented actor and funnyman over the past couple of years, and Punch was fantastic in Woody Allen's "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger," but Amy and Scott are so relentlessly sunshine-y that one begins to feel as though they were suffering through an overlong "SNL" sketch.

Only Segel consistently delivers the laughs. He's the most naturally talented comedian of the cast, but he's so much funnier than anyone else in the film that one suspects he rewrote all of his lines. But as funny as he is, it's hard to get invested in guy who wants to date with a woman as wretched as Elizabeth just because she's got a nice body. C'mon, man. You can do better.

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