Now that the excitement of The Hangover Part II has pretty much died down, you’re probably wondering what else is on release to inject some laughter into this weekend’s drab forecast. The answer: Bad Teacher, a raunchy new American comedy complete with eccentric characters, simple humour and poison apples. I’m glad to say that Bad Teacher is certainly no bad apple itself.
Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) is a foul mouthed (this phrase is bound to come up in every review), penniless and lazy teacher who takes a very early retirement hoping to live off her fiancée’s wealth. However, he dumps her and she has no choice to go back to the profession she loathes. She decides to get breast enlargement surgery, and most of the narrative is moved along by her various efforts to raise the $9000 needed. Meanwhile, her attempts to seduce the new loaded substitute teacher Scott (Justin Timberlake) go by unsuccessful. A healthy bonus is on offer to the teacher who produces the best grades, creating a rivalry between Elizabeth and colleague Amy Squirrel over the money and the honey.
There may not be the affectionate teacher-student relationships you get in School of Rock, but Bad Teacher isn’t trying to be anything like that. Between the raunchy grotesque American comedies and the conventional over the top romance movies, Bad Teachers finds its own middle ground with quirky style gags and witty exchanges. English actress Lucy Punch skillfully plays the sickly sweet Miss Squirrel and her transformation into a ruthless monster. American comedian Jason Segel seems also sidelined here with probably the fewest jokes out of the main cast and his character’s potential seems cut off at points.
Veteran comedy writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg (The Office USA) have produced a mildly engaging story which at times seems unsure about just how far to push the crude humour, but at least the main character doesn’t go through a complete 180° transformation into a ‘good teacher’. Some of the dialogue gets tiresome and it can be unclear what’s supposed to be funny, but the film is redeemed by its straightforward comedy including possibly one of the funniest sex scenes since Team America.
On the whole, Bad Teacher is a reasonably well made movie, and an above average comedy. It may not be the funniest thing you’ll see this year, but it’s certainly more than worth a watch if anything you’ve seen or read about it appeals to you.
Also, what happened to the awesome trailer music? The soundtrack sucked.