21 June 2011
BAD TEACHER- Review
Anyhoo, Kasdan has since helmed Bad Teacher, a comedy vehicle for Cameron Diaz that arrived in cinemas on Friday. Diaz is Elizabeth Halsey, a gold-digging middle-school teacher whose plans for an extremely early retirement go awry when her rich fiancee gets wise to her shallow nature and dumps her. Forced into another year in a job for which she is patently unsuited, she resolves to scrimp, save and extort money to fund a boob job. This, she hopes, will attract another rich suitor, in the form of earnest substitute teacher Scott Delacorte.
If you think the prospect of a comedy vehicle for Cameron Diaz seems an unusual proposition, you're not wrong. While I'm sure the box office will swell as a result of The Highest Grossing Female Star In The World headlining this film, which The Shiznit fairly predicted would be "Bad Santa In A School", it doesn't necessarily work in the film's favour. The rambunctious Miss Halsey is a role better suited to an actress with better comic timing than Diaz has to offer, like Elizabeth Banks, for instance.
Lucy Punch makes a great breakthrough as an uptight loony of a teacher called Miss Squirrel, with a rictus grin and a repressed anger that occasionally blazes out in hilarious fashion. I remembered Punch from Hot Fuzz, as an amateur Juliet who was doomed by her lousy performance, and with far more screentime, she's really the funniest thing on-screen here. Justin Timberlake raises some good laughs too, as a sweet and yet self-absorbed teacher, who spouts earnest clap-trap that makes the female faculty swoon. For example, Scott defines pro-choice as his belief that women always have the right to make their own decisions, "except abortion of course."
But the comparisons to Bad Santa fall down around Diaz, whose comic timing is way off. If I laughed at any of her dialogue, it was largely off of the reaction shots or retorts of actors like Punch, Timberlake, Phyllis Smith or Jason Segel. Segel's role is another peculiar one, setting him up as the "there all along" guy from a hundred million romcoms and yet seeming to parachute him into every single one of his scenes. He's credited as "And Jason Segel" for a reason, in this case.
Also, it feels like a patchwork comedy, of the type produced by Judd Apatow, shooting more footage than needed, which leads to several scenes that go nowhere. Just small, incidental scenes with no jokes or plot development that seem lost. In combination with the heroine's singular lack of any empathic motivation, it's perhaps not the best-written comedy you'll see this year, and it could use a good edit too. Then again, if not for the great supporting cast, then Bad Teacher is worth the price of admission if only for the most perfectly executed shit joke I can remember seeing. I felt bad at how much and how loudly the joke in question made me laugh, and the remembrance of it is making me chuckle even as I write.
Bad Teacher is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Bad Teacher, why not share your comments below?
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.