SYNOPSIS: In the new Cameron Diaz movie, Bad Teacher, she plays – you guessed it – a bad teacher! More concerned with hooking up with a wealthy co-worker (played by her real life ex, Justin Timberlake) than with her students, she doesn’t make much of an effort to actually educate until she learns there’s a cash bonus for the teacher with the highest classroom grade average.
Richard: Tony, having seen the red band trailer for Bad Teacher, I went in expecting a vulgar, funny swear fest along the same lines as The Hangover. Instead I got a funny, only somewhat vulgar movie that I think could have benefitted from a bit more raunch. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, but my expectations were higher… or, I guess, lower. What did you think? (Remember you have big shoes to fill here!)
Tony: Well, first let me thank you for the opportunity to temporarily replace the vacationing Mark Breslin. I wanted to like this movie… so i did. From the opening song Teacher, Teacher by Rockpile, something I still have on original vinyl, to the great casting in even the smallest of roles to the sweet moments followed immediately by gross sight gags to the nicely paced direction by Jake Kasdan, Bad Teacher had a little bit of everything. But it could have had a lot more raunch, you’re right.
Richard: Yeah, it seems a bit afraid to go all the way. Diaz’s character, desperate, pretty on the outside but ugly underneath, is an odd character to hang a comedy on, but she pulls it off. She’ll never be the funny, fresh face she was in There’s Something About Mary and The Mask, and for this movie that’s a good thing. The very slight patina of age and experience in her manner adds some extra desperation to Elizabeth. Having said that, I don’t think this movie would work nearly as well without the supporting cast. You?
Tony: The cast was incredible. Justin Timberlake really shines here. Jason Segel, John Michael Higgins, Phyllis Smith from The Office, they do their usual, great characters, but Eric Stonestreet from Modern Family played opposite to what you would expect, to really funny results. The only sad thing was the grossly underused Molly Shannon. It’s sad. If she was 15 years younger, she’d have been perfect to play Lucy Punch’s Amy Squirrel character, who I felt was doing a great Molly Shannon.
Richard: The supporting cast don’t exactly rescue this movie–it doesn’t need rescuing–but without them, Bad Teacher wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.
Tony: It is very funny if you can allow your suspension of disbelief to ignore the premise that Cameron Diaz’s character actually worked at the school for a full year and gets hired back to have the shenanigans in this movie.
Detroit columnist Bob Talbert once wrote, “Good teachers are costly, but bad teachers cost more.”
Of course he wasn’t talking about actual dollars, but the emotional cost of a sketchy education. He could also have been talking about the new Cameron Diaz movie, Bad Teacher, in which she plays – you guessed it – a bad teacher! More concerned with hooking up with a wealthy co-worker (played by her real life ex Justin Timberlake) than with her students, she doesn’t make much of an effort to actually educate until she learns there’s a cash bonus for the teacher with the highest classroom grade average.
Bad teachers are nothing new on the big screen.
In Animal House, Donald Sutherland played stoned-out college professor Dave Jennings. Sutherland said he has regrets about the film.
Not that he had to parade around dressed only in a shirt and effectively moon the audience, no, he bemoans that he didn’t accept a percentage of the box office as payment. “(Director John) Landis phones up and says, ‘I’m going do this movie called Animal House, and they want to give you two-and-a-half per cent of the profits.’
“And I said, ‘No way! I’ve got to have my daily salary everyday.’ So I got paid for one day’s work and threw way $2 million!”
Probably the worst teacher ever appears in Class of 1984, a trashy school drama starring Roddy MacDowell as Terry Corrigan, a fed up teacher who threatens his unruly class with a loaded gun.
Director Mark L. Lester claims the scene was based on a real event, although a follow-up sequence showing an unbalanced Corrigan attempting to run down his students was pure fiction.
Due to excessive violence the movie was banned in several countries but is of interest to Canadian audiences for a performance by Hamilton, Ont. punk band Teenage Head.
One bad movie teacher actually redeems himself. When we first meet Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s Mr. Hand (Ray Walston) he’s prone to saying things like, “What is this fascination with truancy?” to his students, but near the end of the movie he softens and even pulls out all the stops to help his worst student, Spicoli (Sean Penn), graduate.
Ray Walston, so memorable as the uptight Mr. Hand, almost didn’t get the part, however. It was originally offered to Munster’s star Fred Gwynne who declined over objections to the film’s sexual content.
In the new Cameron Diaz movie, “Bad Teacher,” she plays – you guessed it – a bad teacher! More concerned with hooking up with a wealthy co-worker (played by her real life ex Justin Timberlake) than with her students, she doesn’t make much of an effort to actually educate until she learns there’s a cash bonus for the teacher with the highest classroom grade average.
Diaz will never be the funny, fresh face she was in “There’s Something About Mary” and “The Mask,” and in “Bad Teacher” that’s a good thing. The very slight patina of age and experience in her manner adds some extra desperation to Elizabeth, who is pretty on the outside but ugly underneath.
It’s a daring character to build a comedy around, and luckily, as good as Diaz is, she is leading a well cast ensemble. English actress Lucy Punch (last seen over here in the Woody Allen film You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger) brings some off kilter energy to Amy, a tightly wound teacher uses cute sayings,–like “I have weapons of math destruction.”—to teach her class. Also strong are “The Office’s” Phyllis Smith, Justin Timberlake, who performs the year’s most uncomfortable sex scene, and Thomas Lennon, but the movie’s heart and soul belong to Jason Segal who brings a easy humor and a great deal of charm to the role of gym teacher Russell. His warmth is a nice, and needed counterbalance to Diaz’s caustic gold digger.
The supporting cast don’t exactly rescue this movie–it doesn’t need rescuing–but without them “Bad Teacher” wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. “Bridesmaids” is still the funniest movie of the summer, but it is heartening to see another female lead comedy score so well.