Synopsis: Some teachers just donât give an F. For example, there’s Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz). Sheâs foul-mouthed, ruthless, and inappropriate. She drinks, she gets high, and she canât wait to marry her meal ticket and get out of her bogus day job. When sheâs dumped by her fiancÃ©, she sets her plan in motion to win over a rich, handsome substitute (Justin Timberlake) â competing for his affections with an overly energetic colleague, Amy (Lucy Punch). When Elizabeth also finds herself fighting off the advances of a sarcastic, irreverent gym teacher (Jason Segel), the consequences of her wild and outrageous schemes give her students, her coworkers, and even herself an education like no other.
Release Date: June 24, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Dark Comedy
Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) is one bad teacher, and you have to love her just a tiny bit for being that way. After her fiance dumps her because of her gold digging ways Elizabeth finds herself back where she never wanted to return, John Adams Middle School (JAMS for short). JAMS is a place full of a wealth of personalities in terms of the teachers, and faculty, and Elizabeth is no stranger to their awkward and over-excitable ways. Her one “friend” on staff, if you can call her a friend given the way Elizabeth treats her, is fellow teacher Lynn Davies (Phyllis Smith). It is through their conversation over lunch that we learn Elizabeth’s master plan to get out of teaching forever–to get breast implants in order to find a man to take care of her; or as she thinks of it, making herself go from an 8.5 to a 10. Elizabeth’s quest for a wealthy man happens upon her in the least likely of places, the school hallway when she meets teacher Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake), an heir to a wealthy family who teaches because…who really knows why or cares.
Elizabeth may be beautiful, with a masterful way at manipulating men but Scott is going to be a challenge. This simpleton is “crushing” on Elizabeth’s rival, the uber-excited, cringe inducing teacher Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch). Amy is the teacher everyone had at some point in their lives, who talks in funny voices and tries to make everything a game. One of her students speaks for everyone without saying a word each time her craziness is on display. The camera close-ups on his face, with his mouth agape and his eyes rolling back into his head. The close-up shot may be short each time but every second this kid is on screen makes the greatest of impressions, and it is hilarious. Between Elizabeth’s attempts to woo the gentile Scott, take down Ms. Squirrel, and achieve her ultimate goal of filling her “tit’s jar” with enough money to have her breast enlargement she is faced with one other little problem, the gym teacher Russell Gettis (Jason Segal) likes her just as she is, full of bite.
Now about being a bad teacher. Elizabeth lives up to the title in every manner of the word “bad”. The stash she keeps in her bottom drawer has nothing on the comments that come out of her mouth directed at the children in her class. She is not someone to like, and definitely not a person you would want teaching your child. This is not a film for children though, and the brashness of the lead character from the very beginning points you in the direction that the entire film is going to take. You will not like Elizabeth, she will not change, but you just may respect her in an odd coincidence by film’s end. On the way there plan on enjoying the ride with Elizabeth as she gives all she has to fulfilling her dreams of becoming a successful gold digger with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
Bad Teacher lives or dies on the performance by Cameron Diaz as Elizabeth, with a little help from her friends. Diaz takes the role of being a bad teacher to the limits, proving successfully that she does have what it takes to play a character who is hilariously deplorable. Diaz does not miss a single comedic beat throughout the entire film, working off of her co-stars with such detestable ease that the quick wit her character possesses is an enviable trait. In her moments of slight weakness, when she is doling out advice that is painstakingly honest yet refreshing to hear even if it involves swearing at a 12 year-old boy, Diaz manages to make Lucy almost someone you could learn to like. Almost. There will be no breaking down of the rough edged Elizabeth in the film, nor should you want there to be. She is perfect just as she is, being bad.
Elizabeth does not achieve greatness on her own, as Lucy Punch’s Amy is out of control crazy perfection on screen, and the mousy, shy, constantly beaten upon Davies’ Lynn leaves you laughing long after she has left the screen. The only less than great performances come from the two main male characters, Segal’s Russell and Timberlake’s Scott. Neither actor is really stretching in the role, or joining in on the fun of this Bad Teacher rendezvous. The feeling that these character’s could have been played by anyone settles in pretty quickly. The performances in this film belong to the woman, and each one of them brings more than enough talent to the screen to make a viewer more than happy to watch them in every scene.
Bad Teacher has plenty of laughs throughout the film. What it does not have is a great deal of really BIG laughs. Elizabeth is hilarious, with every word she says or action she performs. It is a very dry, sarcastic, and somewhat brazen humor though that may not resonate well to all viewers. She does not have any class, for example, and will say things that are very unladylike and inappropriate. Is it funny, (in my opinion) it is hysterical; for someone else maybe not so much. Bad Teacher is not trying to make you laugh with gross out gags and potty mouth jokes. It simply develops a character who makes shameful comments, does very bad things, and has no regard for anyone or anything funny. Whether you laugh is relative to what you find funny; all I can say is the audience was mixed when it came to laughing and so the rating must fall down the middle (BUT I was laughing constantly!).
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Jake Kasdan
- Producer(s): Gene StupnitskyLee Eisenberg
- Screenwriter(s): Cameron Diaz (Elizabeth Halsey)Jason Segal (Russell Gettis)Lucy Punch (Amy Squirrel)
- Story: Justin Timberlake (Scott Delacorte)
- Cast: Phyllis Smith (Lynn Davies)John Michael Higgins (Principal Wally Snur) Tara TimponeAlar KiviloJefferson Sage
- Cinematographer: Michael Andrews
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA