Everyone had that one teacher that they will always remember. Most of us have fond memories of an educator that either was so helpful in getting us through a school year or just the coolest teacher possible. In some cases the memories may not be fond but you still hold high regard for that tough love teacher that academically whooped your ass into shape when you were falling behind. And then there’s Elizabeth Halsey; the teacher no one should ever have. Imagine a teacher that is so messed up, she could give the four misfits from The Breakfast Club a run for their money. What Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa was to Christmas, Cameron Diaz is to teaching, and that is putting it lightly.
Cameron Diaz is no stranger to playing colorful characters, so the role of Elizabeth Halsey fits her perfectly. In her own words, Miss Halsey became a teacher “for all the right reasons: shorter hours, summers off and no accountability.” Winner material right from the start. The story however, begins at what is to be the end of her career. It is the end of a school year and she has done the bare minimum to skate by without being fired. The reason she was pulling a honey badger is that she was engaged to be married to a very rich man. This was to be the last she would ever have to work anywhere. Her plan was perfect until her mother-in-law to be paid a visit. She talked her son out of marrying the gold-digging little blonde and instantly she goes from riches to rags. No more red Benz and condo life; now she pushes a red POS hatchback and shares an apartment with a guy named Kirk. Having failed over the summer at getting impregnated by members of the Chicago Bulls, she sees teaching as her only means of survival. After she had figuratively given this school the finger, Miss Halsey was expecting nothing less than a year from hell. Ask and you shall receive, m’lady.
Granted, this movie is supposed to be all about Diaz' character (just from reading the title) but we have host of other goofballs to enjoy here and it made for an enjoyable film. We could have had a whole movie just off of the animosity between Halsey and Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch). The stuff they do to each other in this movie is gold. The character of Scott Delacorte was probably one of the funniest roles I have seen Justin Timberlake in to date. You have to see his “love scene” and his musical performance. Everything you know about him “bringing sexy back” goes off the roof of the Sears Tower and plummets to a painful death. Russell Gettis (Jason Segel) rounds out the main cast as a gym teacher hot for Elizabeth that shares more interests with her than she would like to acknowledge. A supporting cast of educators, students and parents made for a very fun movie. The execution was far from perfect, but there is also not a whole lot I would have changed.
I think I was expecting more interaction from the “bad teacher” with her students. The trailers for this movie show some of the funniest scenes of the film and they are all teaching scenes. The actual movie shows Diaz sleeping or drinking in class while the students watch movies and that got old really quick. There are only two or three instances where she really interacts with her students and only one kid that she actually helps. This ties in with the ending, but it still left me with an unfulfilled feeling. You would think that from the title she would become a good teacher by the end, but that never happens so there is no real payoff even though she does end up changing by the credits. I cannot recommend that anyone see this in theatres and even on home video I would probably only buy it for $15 or less. Bad Teacher is not a bad movie, but it struggles to make the grade, so to speak. Sorry Miss Diaz, I love you most of the time, but you get a C for this one.
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