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Everyone has been to school, and whether you look back on your school days with fondness, cringing or all-out hate (or all three), we’ve all been stuck in classrooms with teachers that span the spectrum from brilliant to soul destroying. So we can all relate to stories about the good, and the bad of school. Most of the time, when we see movies about school life they usually involve people being killed in them, having sex in them, or trying to have sex but being killed in them. Bad Teacher seems to have a slightly different approach then, by looking at the teachers instead of the students. But does it succeed?

Let me get the comparisons to ‘Bad Santa’ out of the way straight away – Bad Santa this is not. Yes, they may have similar setups and even a similar approach to the cruder side of comedy, but these are two very different movies. It’ll probably help your perception of the film if you don’t go in expecting Bad Santa 2.

The setup itself is pretty simple – Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz) is a money hungry gold-digger first, and a teacher second. Losing her golden-ticket boyfriend does nothing for her teaching skills and she remains absolutely useless at her job, preferring the booze & drugs lifestyle. That is until a new sub, Scott (Justin Timberlake) appears, and Elizabeth decides the way to his wealthy heart is through a boob job – which she has to find the money for.

I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of Cameron Diaz. She is good in a number of films, sure, but often seems to just be playing the same ‘kooky’ character over and over. With Bad Teacher it’s much the same, only with some added rudeness. She’s perfectly fine in the role, but there’s nothing she brings to it that makes the character all that memorable. You can imagine that quite a lot of other actresses could have taken the role and really expanded on it, whilst Diaz seems, in the movie at least, to be directly following the script with little personal input. However she’s certainly more memorable here than in Green Hornet. Yes, you may have forgotten, but she was in Green Hornet.

In general the movie is well cast – Timberlake  and gym teacher Jason Segel are both very good and have great chemistry with Diaz, whilst newcomer Lucy Punch is excellent as the goody-two-shoes teacher we have ALL experienced at least once in our academic careers. Without a decent supporting cast this movie would probably have been a complete misfire, but they all interact really well and seem to be enjoying themselves, which shows. There’s a nice twist to the norm too in that Elizabeth remains selfish and basically horrible for most of the movie – they don’t turn her into the Worlds Best Woman for the sake of it.


Whilst it is indeed a simple setup there is definitely the potential for a great comedy here, and that is I think the biggest disappointment for me in that they didn’t capitalise on it. That’s not to say there are no laughs – there are, even though the joke I laughed the most at was in the trailer anyway – but there’s nothing special about Bad Teacher that makes it stand out, which is a shame considering the recent wave of high-profile comedy that is in our cinemas. It’s certainly not the disaster I feared it might be, and if you’re looking for a way to spend 90 minutes on Friday night though, you can do a lot worse. Just don’t go in expecting The Next Big Comedy.



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