Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I don't need a blackboard or a classroom to set an example.

 Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

To this day I still can't explain why I love Cameron Diaz. Even if the movie is a terrible abomination, if it stars her I will see it first day, first showing. At first I just thought it was just because she was hot but there have been much hotter women whose films I refuse to see. There's just some sort of je ne sais quoi about her that I love and now her new film Bad Teacher is out and so of course, like the fan I am, I'm there day one. So what did I think? Well it has it's moments where it IS grip your sides funny and Diaz is charismatic, beautiful and hilarious as always but the film falters in a lot of other places which keep it from being the great comedy that it could have been.
 Diaz plays Elizabeth, a vain, lazy, superficial, bitter, golddigging, possible alcoholic and drug abusing teacher whose main goal in life is to marry someone rich, never work another day in her life and spend his money. A monkey wrench is thrown in her plan, however, when her rich fiance dumps her and she begrudgingly goes back to teaching, which mostly consists of her showing movies in class while she sleeps. Fortune, however, comes in the form of Scott, a sweet, naive, and filthy rich substitute teacher whose come to work at the school. Immediately she sees him as her ticket out and so gets to work trying to seduce him. Problem is Scott likes Amy, Elizabeth's rival and stick in the mud colleague and only thinks of her as a friend. So her big goal is this: get $10,000 for breast augmentation so she can win over Scott. And how's she going to get that money? Car washes, lying and winning the big bonus that goes to the teacher with the highest test scores. All the while she's getting hit on by a gym teacher who she rejects at every turn.

 The plot works for the most part and it's paced pretty well, but there is just something off about the film. It's raunchy, sexual, crude and abrasive, in yet has these moments of pure cheese and sappiness that just don't really seem to fit in with the rest of the movie. It's like if Superbad had Scrubs/Modern Family esque heartfelt wrap up moments dispersed throughout the movie. And the ending, which I won't spoil, feels way too happy for a film this blue. I blame most of that on the difference in styles between the writers and the director. The director did Walk Hard, another raunchy comedy, while the writers are mostly known for their work on The Office, writing some of the more heartfelt episodes the series has had. Their only silver screen credit is the abysmal Year One. I think that is what really brings the film down. It's like two opposing styles, clashing to make a film that could have been much funnier than it was.
 The acting is pretty solid all around. I think Anya Colloff and Amy McIntyre Britt (the casting people) did a great job of finding people who work well together in a comedy environment. Diaz is fantastic and hilarious throughout and I loved watching every minute of her. I will say though, and this is mostly the fault of the writers, Elizabeth is sometimes really hard to like. I mean the odd shifts in tone make her seem more human but for the most part it's like rooting for the bitchy character in a movie, it doesn't fit. But I don't blame Diaz for that moreso than the writers. Justin Timberlake, who plays Scott, does considerably well considering, besides SNL, he doesn't have a TON of acting experience. Granted that's changing as we speak but he's grown into a pretty good comedic actor. Lucy Punch is funny as Amy and a good antithesis to Elizabeth's crazy antics. And Segel is great as always. I love the big lug and his timing is as perfect as ever. Now I know that seems like an unusual amount of praise but I really did enjoy the acting. If only the writing and the weird off putting tonal shifts didn't bring down the rest of the film. I would have much rather seen them all improv a film script together than what the final product ended up being. I'm willing to bet an improvised movie by them would have been much better.
Bad Teacher suffers from a serious case of the "could-have-beens." It could have been great, if not for the shoddy writing and tonal shifts. It could have been great if it would have been improvised or if other people had stepped in to write. It could have been great if they let Diaz go even more wild than she did (I saw the Sweetest Thing...she can go there). The list goes on for a week but in the end we are left with a mediocre comedy with great acting. I still say it's worth seeing for the cast alone but probably wait until it's out on video.

And since I figure everyone's using this pun I guess I might as well to: This movie gets a C (Insert laughter)


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