I wish I had nice words to say about Bad Teacher. It seems like a cruel tradition around my birthday that I’m subjected to an awful Cameron Diaz vehicle, last year’s being the Tom Cruise-helmed Knight and Day. Okay, here’s the good thing about it: she plays a deceptively cruel middle school teacher whose maniacal schemes and backstabs are more clever than the movie itself. But really, who wants to see Diaz, who’s now just shy of convincingly hot, stomp around the film being an absolute jerk to everyone? Hopefully not you, definitely not me.
There’s an axiom in the movie industry that trailers give away all the good parts of any movie. This is 100% true of this film. Diaz (I can’t even remember her character’s name) is retiring from her teaching job after a single school year. When she gets home, ready to start a new life married to a sugar daddy, she meets her fiancee and his mother, who decide to dump her. Three months later, she returns to her job at the beginning of the new school year in a junkier car — with a crappier attitude — while becoming roommates with a guy she met through Craigslist. The story is something about her getting breast augmentations to impress a new substitute teacher (Timberlake) while the competition for his heart is the childishly perky, slightly off-canter colleague across the hall (Punch). Diaz’s character can’t teach, so her students watch movies for weeks on end, leaving their parents (including a one Kevin Butler) willing to give cash bribes to make sure their kids get decent grades.
The film is rubbish, rolling from one excruciating scene to the next, trying so hard to make us feel compassionate for her plight. Think what you will of the American version, but the screenplay by The Office regulars Eisenberg and Stupnitsky is far below grade. Interesting actors like Timberlake and Segel, as well as the advertised Phyllis Smith, are disappointing props for Diaz’s malarkey. A subplot in which she helps a shy kid get the pretty girl in class is shoe-horned in. Speaking of which, all the humor is, too: witless and crass. At a relatively short ninety-two minutes, I found myself yawning three quarters through. There’s not a single shred of payoff in this movie. No joke you’ll remember, no character you’ll fall in love with, no crude moment to forever haunt the halls of vulgar comedies. Bad Teacher fails on every count, hopefully washing down the collective drain of our memories forever. Like middle school.