Our critic writes how the new comedy starring Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz tries too hard to be badass.
Director: Jake Kasdan Rating: R Studio: Columbia Pictures
Poor little Bad Teacher. It's neither as bad as it wants to be nor as bad as its Bad Santa-influenced title suggests it will be. Worse, after the women-behaving-badly raunch of Bridesmaids, it plays like very weak me-too.
Anyway, Cameron Diaz is front and center playing a slutty, foul-mouthed, kid-hating, frequently stoned seventh-grade teacher forced to go back to work when her moneybags fiancé dumps her. A trophy wife past her pull date, Diaz’s self-deluded character thinks that the fastest way to snare a rich new sucker—substitute teacher Justin Timberlake—is with a rocking rack. But with American teachers being so grossly underpaid and implants costing what they do these days, our terminally self-absorbed heroine resorts to a succession of skeevy tricks to finance her breast implant surgery. We are supposed to find her desperation hilariously funny. That's purely a matter of taste.
Directed by Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) from a script by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, the movie tries so hard to be badass—ethnic slurs, treating kids like crap, Diaz working a school car wash in cutoffs and showing her midriff—but it doesn’t add up. Diaz is hot, fun and game. She certainly goes at it full-throttle, but Timberlake (whose meant-to-be-“killer” dry humping scene is embarrassing) and Jason Segel (as the horny, pudgy physical education teacher) are undone by the mediocrity and rancid nature of what's around them; Lucy Punch, though, is pretty damn hilarious in a cringe-worthy role as Diaz’s rival, a sickeningly sweet history teacher. Even at only 92 minutes, Bad Teacher feels like a week in detention.
About the Author
Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello has written many Playboy Interview and 20 Questions features. He is the author of such books as the notorious Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the latter of which has inspired a dramatic feature film set for production in 2011. His most recent Playboy Interviews include Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz.