Cameron Diaz is on top form in entertaining comedy Bad Teacher. It is definitely one of the better recent adverts for females taking on central comedic roles, proving that women can hold their own and should not be confined to cheesy, predictable rom-coms. Unless they are Jennifer Aniston.
Elizabeth Halsey is foul-mouthed, unprofessional teacher, concerned only with finding a rich man to marry. When her fiancé dumps her, Elizabeth is forced to go back to her old job. She sets her sights on rich new teacher Scott Delacorte, but her behaviour attracts the attention of the successful colleague Amy Squirrel…
Given the premise, Bad Teacher could have gone down a similar path to School of Rock. Thankfully, Jake Kasdan’s film eschew this option, choosing to focus on a character that does not want to redeem herself or help others. The aim of Bad Teacher is to generate laughs; other aspects are secondary to this.
What works so well in Bad Teacher is the frequency of the humour. Comedy in the film balances carefully between being accessible and being raucous. Jokes are not too close to the bone as to offend anyone but the most sensitive of souls, yet humour is often garnered from shocking or surprising comments.
As such, Bad Teacher exudes an admirable attitude. It is not offensive for shock value; the humour more often than not is better than this. Rather, the crassness is present simply because it is genuinely funny, immature as this may be. Although there is a romantic angle, this never overshadows the humour. Plenty of comedies feature more serious or poignant scenes, which can become overly sentimental if not executed well. Writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg avoid this trap in Bad Teacher. Any moments of realisation or emotion are handled with the lightest touch; there are no heavy-handed scenes where the protagonist realises the error of her ways. The film is all the better because of this.
Cameron Diaz is great as Elizabeth. The actress clearly seems to be having a lot of fun with the role, and the style of comedy suits Diaz very well. She gets fantastic support from most of the cast. Lucy Punch is fantastic as Amy, while Jason Segel is wisely cast as gym teacher Russell. Segel’s role is fairly minor but provides sufficient humour. Justin Timberlake is a lot of fun as Scott, and is given some great lines.
Bad Teacher is not the greatest comedy ever made. It is, however, great fun and a lot better than many of the other comedies released this year.