- 16 Jun 11
Bad Teacher? More like bad filmmaking, as Cameron Diaz fails to amuse
Blame Bad Santa. Apparently Hollywood’s cheat-sheet to writing screenable comedy now involves picking a profession, putting ‘bad’ in front of it, giving the main character a drinking problem and expecting us to laugh uproariously. Nice try, but Bad Teacher barely scrapes a pass.
A gold-digging alcoholic forced into teaching to pay for a breast augmentation, Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz) is selfish, charmless and – unlike Billy Bob’s hilarious misanthrope in Bad Santa – not even funny. Not smart enough to provide any memorable one-liners or charismatic enough to make the long, vacuous spaces between feeble jokes enjoyable, Diaz’s character could only have entertained if her outrageous antics were genuinely hilarious. As it is, the only shocking thing about Elizabeth’s checklist of bad behaviour is how horribly clichéd it all is. As she swears, sleeps during class, smokes marijuana in the staff car-park and sexes it up at a school car wash, there’s a painful sense of ‘been there, seen that’.
The supporting cast of teachers fares better, their endearing charm outshining Diaz’s stiflingly unlikeable presence. The dry humour and sarcastic comments of Jason Segel’s PE teacher function as the brains of the entire film, while the wonderfully innocent Phyllis Smith is all heart. Unfortunately director Jake Kasdan, like his irredeemable main character, ignores them in favour of Diaz’s contribution to the film: boobs.
The one great joke comes from casting Diaz’s real life ex, Justin Timberlake, as Elizabeth’s desired conquest, and a scene where the couple dry-hump for an excruciatingly long time is crudely, stupidly funny. But as the set-up to the scene seems to have been lost somewhere on the cutting-room floor, even this punchline is ruined by clumsy directing.
Try as he might, Kasdan can’t compensate for the lack of humour, pacing and character development merely by letting the camera linger on Timberlake’s crotch or Diaz’s nipples. Look out for his upcoming instructional film, Bad Director.