Cameron Diaz stars as Elizabeth, a superficial money grubbing creep who keeps a teaching job begrudgingly because she has not found a rich man to marry yet. Elizabeth is horrible to most everyone in her path and as a teacher she does the bare minimum, which entails playing movies for her children while she sleeps and drinks in class. Her main goal throughout the film is to raise enough money to get breast implants that will, in her opinion, land her a rich man to marry.
Bad Teacher intended to be a female version of Bad Santa, a movie that starred Billy Bob Thornton in the lead role in 2003. Unfortunately Bad Teacher is never quite good at being bad, and there are so many competing sub-plots in that none of them really pay off in the end. The lone bright spot in the film is Diaz herself as she was great in the role of sexy gold digger.
There were several sub plots that would have been great if the writers had had the patience to stick with one. My favorite subplot was Elizabeth’s friendship with Lynn, the middle aged shy teacher with a confidence problem played by Phyllis Smith who is best known from her role as “Phyllis” on the popular TV show The Office. They three to four great scenes together. Unfortunately Lynn’s character was absent for a majority of the movie so the relationship never really grew. The same could be said for Elizabeth’s relationship with her students, who never really operated as much more than props for the movie. So unlike other bad teacher movies like School of Rock, there wasn’t even that much of a need for the lead to be a teacher as a profession because it really didn’t have a great deal to do with the story at large.
While the film ignored the several interesting subplots that could have had a great emotional payoff in the end, instead the majority of the film involved Elizabeth saving and scheming her way toward $9,000 to get breast implants. This unfortunately was the least interesting aspect of the movie, not to mention the least funny. In addition the film seem to pull it’s punches, never really crossing the line in bad behavior that makes for memorable laugh out moments in films like these. So an audience going for a comedy experience like The Hangover or Bridesmaids are going to be disappointed.
What did work to a certain degree was the rivalry between Elizabeth and the goodie-two shoed teacher Mrs. Squirrel. Although the fun breaks down in the end as Mrs. Squirrel comes unglued and goes a little bit over the top, but the in fighting between the two has its share of fun moments. Overall Bad Teacher is not focused enough and it seems to sell out on its premise in the end. Unfortunately the movie too often moves away from its strengths and focuses its attentions on its weaknesses. Which is too bad because it is easy to see that Bad Teacher had potential to be a good and funny movie.
Films like Bad Teacher – Bad Santa, School of Rock and Mr. Woodcock
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.
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