by Rick Grant
Cameron Diaz’s career seems to have stumbled lately and she was looking for a different vehicle that allowed her to get naughty with ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake. So she signed on to this quirky comedy that features Diaz as a foulmouthed, hard living, seventh grade teacher, Elizabeth Halsey, missing a moral compass.
The comedic setup is righteous, but the timing is out of sync. Director Jake Kasdan’s pacing is all over the place as the picture sputters along. Yes, some of the scenes are funny, but the script is devoid of clever jokes that meld into the scenario.
In other words, during a scene, Liz will rip off a one-liner then the momentum drops off and there is no follow-up. Much of her comedic lines are blue, which does get cheap laughs.
Justin Timberlake portrays an heir to a fortune slumming as a teacher Scott Delocorte. Liz locks onto him like a heat seeking missile. But he has eyes for another teacher, Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch). Ah yes, Timberlake should stick to his day job as a pop star. He had no idea how to characterize Scott. And I could have lived without his dumb song.
The producers were hoping the movie would be a female version of “Bad Santa” set in a middle school. However, the script is a mess and Diaz ends up creating an obnoxious bitch who isn’t funny and grates on viewers’ nerves.
So, after Liz alienates the audience with her flippant strumpet routine, the rest of the film is no nail-bitter. It boils down to who will be the next victim of her conniving.
By this point in the picture, the viewer is asking where is this going? Is Liz going to go straight? No way, but there are few surprises, as Liz’s date book is down to one guy, the school’s coach played by Jason Segel.
The real problem with Kasdan’s film, other than the out of whack timing, is Diaz’s interpretation of Liz lacks subtlety. She is just not likeable or that funny. Diaz completely missed the point of her character–a bad girl with redeeming qualities. Liz has none!
Bad Teacher Movie Review
by Rick Grant