*** out of ****
Spill Rating: MATINEE!
-Proves Cameron Diaz's Comedic Talents
-An Actual Funny S#%& Joke!
-Never Quite Reaches Its True Potential
-Lucy Punch Is A Little Too Over-The-Top
-Dry Dumping = NOT FUNNY!
This summer for films has been wildly inconsistent to say the least. For every X-Men: First Class, we've had something like Mr. Popper's Penguins that makes me want to throw myself under a train. Surprisingly, the only consistent film genre this summer has been comedy. The Hangover Part II, Kung Fu Panda 2, and Priest have all delivered huge laughs. (Watching Cam Gigandet try to act is a feast for the eyes) Considering the first few comedies this year were absolute dreck like Your Highness and Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son, the recent number of successes seems incredibly unusual. With Bad Teacher, I can declare that this summer's comedy streak to be ongoing since its a highly enjoyable film.
Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) is a poor Chicago area teacher who curses at her students, drinks heavily, and takes copious amounts of drugs. She plans to marry her wealthy fiance, but when he dumps her, she tries to win over substitute teacher Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake), who is also wealthy. Scott's colleague Amy Squirrell (Lucy Punch) is also pursuing Scott, while the school's gym teacher Russell Gettis (Jason Segel) is making advances on Elizabeth. Shenanigans ensue.
Bad Teacher isn't a fantastic comedy by any means. Many of its jokes fall flat on the pavement and the premise never lives up to its potential. Nowadays, it seems like critics only like comedies that are completely funny 100% through. Its rare to find any comedy of ANY year that fulfills that criteria. (Monty Python and The Holy Grail wins!) By those terms, Bad Teacher fails terribly. However, what I look for in a comedy like Bad Teacher is to deliver semi-consistent laughs that are well-thought out as well as a little originality to spice things up. In those terms, the films succeeds splendidly.
Easily the best thing about Bad Teacher is Cameron Diaz, who has been getting terrible roles for what seems like a decade. The recent Green Hornet was the tip of the iceberg for her many bad roles over the years. In fact, I can't even remember the last good film she starred in! Bad Teacher goes a long way in showing that Diaz has a lot of talent. Even in bad films, she's shown that she can act but Bad Teacher shows she has comedic chops as well. She does a lot with a character that could have been easily unlikable to the point of disgust but instead makes her sympathetic. If there was one thing I disliked about Bridesmaids, its was the fact that Kristin Wiig's character was EXTREMELY unlikable at times. I have to give Diaz credit for not only delivering laughs but for also giving her character enough dimension that few other actresses could.
Of the other co-stars, Jason Segel shines the brightest out of everyone. He doesn't have much screen time but delivers a ton of laughs when he does, my favorite being the LeBron vs MJ speech. (Summary: MJ Wins) As well, he has better on-screen chemistry with Diaz than fellow co-star Justin Timberlake who adds another great role to his filmography. The guy can't seem to do any wrong at this point. At the other end of spectrum is Lucy Punch, who is both incredibly funny and annoying. I know that she is supposed to crazy, but I wanted to gouge my ears out half the time she spoke.
The premise is good and the cast are game but a comedy comes down to the jokes. Like The Hangover Part II, it has some stretches that had me rolling on the floor and others that had me thinking "Are you f***ing kidding me?" The good thing is that the film hits much more than it misses. Just to give you an idea on how good some of the jokes are, listen to this: THERE IS A FUNNY POOP JOKE IN HERE. HALLA-F***ING-LUJAH! Its about damn time!
Bad Teacher isn't an exceptional comedy but it delivers a ton of great laughs. Cameron Diaz is fantastic, giving a somewhat despicable character enough depth to reward sympathy. Justin Timberlake and Jason Segel also give a great one-two punch. Along with Bridesmades and The Hangover Part II, this another comedy to check out in the theaters.