[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B0052XLH2A][/pullquote] Teachers are usually portrayed in films one of two ways. They are either inspirational life-changers or they are officious and bureaucratic. Whether it’s LouAnne Johnson in Dangerous Minds or Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the archetypes are there for all to see. Luckily in Bad Teacher, they rarely fall into either category. Whether they are casually taking drugs, drinking too much or making inappropriate advances to their co-workers, there’s plenty to admire in the ˜don’t give a shit’ attitude on display throughout.
The story revolves around Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz), the ˜bad teacher’ in question, whose life falls apart after she is dumped by her rich fiancÃ© and is forced to live a poor life. She decides that she needs breast implants in order to ensnare the school’s new, rich substitute teacher Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake). During the course of the film she lies, cheats, steals and drugs her way to be able to afford her new breasts.
There are easy comparisons to be made of Bad Teacher with 2003’s Bad Santa, with both protagonists being employed in a much-loved profession, but making terrible decisions and being rude, crass and mean to the children in their care. Bad Teacher sadly lacks the same number of hearty laughs, which is a shame, because once it gets going, it has some very amusing episodes.
Diaz is in good form, after a stuttering start, as the foul-mouthed teacher who is obsessed with money and her ˜new tits.’ Justin Timberlake, who gave an incredible performance in 2010’s The Social Network, is miscast here and his comedy timing is forced and off-putting. Both lead stars are completely schooled in the art of laugh-making by Jason Segel, whose transition from TV to feature films has been as seamless as one of his quick quips. Every second he is on screen he is making the audience laugh, and without him the film would be a total disaster.
With the pacing problems, lack of laughs for large portions of the film and the skittish editing, this is not one of the stronger comedies of the year, which is a shame because it had a lot of potential. Still Segel is almost worth the price of admission alone, and it has a rather sweet heart to it, and the moral of the story is an important one, even if the film fails to deliver it properly.