Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bad Teacher Reason Why Education System is a Joke

Bad Teacher

At first glance it is easy to think of Bad Teacher as the educational companion to Bad Santa. Both films feature main characters who are not likeable, but you end up rooting for them regardless. However, that is where the comparisons end. Unlike the delightfully crude Bad Santa, Bad Teacher always tries to keep one toe on the softer side of the line.

After she is dumped by her fiancée due to her gold digging ways, Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) is forced to go back to her job as a middle school teacher. Halsey is anything but an ideal teacher. She spends her time showing her class movies, drinking in class, smoking pot in the parking lot, and sleeps on the job. When Halsey discovers that the new substitute teacher, Scott Delacorte (Justin Timerblake), comes from a wealth family she sees him as her ticket out. Believing that getting breast implants will help her woo Delacorte, Halsey is willing to lie, cheat, and steal her way to collecting the $10, 000 needed for the surgery. Standing in the way of her goal are the romantic advances of the school gym teacher, Russell Gettis (Jason Segel), and a colleague, Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), who is wise to Halsey’s schemes..

There is a fair bit to like about Bad Teacher as the humour often flirts with the boundaries. Diaz does a good job of making Halsey as dislikable as possible and she also gets some great one-liners sprinkled throughout. However, her strong performance is tempered by Jake Kasdan’s uneven direction. Being a fan of Kasdan’s previous films I was expecting him to provide a little more bite to the film. Unfortunately Kasdan never lets the characters run wild like they should. He struggles to keep a certain wholesome aspect flowing throughout the film.


This is most evident in the subplot where one of Halsey’s students tries win over the girl of his affections. Moments like these allow Kasdan to show that Halsey is not necessarily a bad person, just a selfish one. It is as if Kasdan does not have faith in the audience to connect with Halsey if she was completely bad. The problem is all the best moments in the film come when Halsey is being bad. If Kasdan wanted to inject the film with a softer angle, he should have utilized Segel’s character more.

Speaking of Segel, he is sorely underused in the film. He is not only the conscious voice in the film, but he is far more inspired than Timberlake’s Delacorte. While Timberlake usually gives entertaining performances, his character runs out of steam by the halfway mark and becomes rather annoying. Segel’s comedic timing is really wasted in the film as he disappears for long segments. This also does not help the love story to develop smoothly. Fortunately Diaz provides enough laughs to at least keep Bad Teacher moving. While enjoyable at times it would have been nice if the film was as crude as it hints at being.


5 comments:

  1. Why do you feel the education system is a joke? Not arguing. Just asking.

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  2. Johnny B!1:09 pm

    I feel this movie solidified my dislike in Diaz. I dont think she cause one utterance of a chukle out of me during the entire screening of this film.

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  3. I got some laughs from this movie. I agree Segel was underused, though.

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  4. It does have some chuckles but there are just way too many punch lines that fall flat on their faces and not enough of Jason Segel’s effortless hilarity to balance out everything else that’s trying too hard. ‘BadTeacher’ had the potential for greatness but ended up being pretty forgettable. Good Review!

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  5. @Ian – While I think the education system is flawed (e.g. teachers have little to no power in schools anymore thanks to meddling parents) I do have any personal gripes with it overall. The title of the review is more of a reference to how the main character considers her job as a teacher a joke. The title can also be taken as a reference to a few “bad teachers” I had growing up. We have all had one or two experiences with less than stellar teachers.

    @JohnnyB! – I am not a huge fan of Diaz either but I thought she did a good job in the film. Far better than her dreadful performances in Knight and Day, What Happen’s in Vegas, etc.

    @Chip Lary – No offense to Timberlake but Segal should have been the main male lead. He could have generated bigger laughs than the film currently has.

    @Dan O – The film was definitely uneven in regards to the number of jokes that worked and the jokes that went nowhere. While it is not a film I will be watching again anytime soon, it did entertain me for a few hours.

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