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bad teacher
Click for full sized poster

Bad Teacher

Starring Cameron Diaz, Lucy Punch, John Michael Higgins, Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake
Screenplay by Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg
Directed by Jake Kasdan

IN SHORT: "C" no gold stars. [Rated R for sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use. 92 minutes]

Comedy is hard enough. "R" rated comedy, if there was a Righteous Overseer of the things, might find a way to achieve that adult rating without repetitive uses of the "f" word . . . yeah, we know that's how we talked at age 20, until we met this blonde who objected. But enough about us <g>

Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) has spent just a wee bit of time at Illinois' John Adams Middle School (aka JAMS - "Go Pioneers!"). When Bad Teacher begins, Ms Halsey is taking leave of JAMS so marry and settle down with a guy named Mark who belongs to a family that is very, very rich. How rich? Halsey wears a Kardashian sized engagement ring. She spent $17,000 for stuff using the family accounts last month (sic) . . . and Mark's mom brings the hammer down. No marriage. No money. No ring. Buh bye.

And so begins Bad Teacher, in which a now "impoverished" Liz Halsey must return to JAMS and teach something to her class of 7th graders. Liz, though, spends her evenings getting blotto, while searching out her next big ticket. While she sleeps off the hangover in her early a.m. class she teaches her students by showing movies (like Stand By Me) about great teachers teaching students. It isn't that Liz doesn't care about her students . . . well, actually, she doesn't but it's a tough world out there and Liz is a good catch for some golden boy and that is her priority. To compete with younger gold diggers she needs larger breasts. That's $10,000 she doesn't have.

So . . . how to utilize JAMS to help achieve her goals? Well, there is the school car wash. An activity that (you will see again and again in TV spots and talk show appearances which affirm that Alex Rodriguez is a lucky, lucky man <g>) raised a couple of thousand the previous year . . .

But that previous car wash was overseen by the pretty, perky and perfect teacher across the hall, one Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch) and she has suspicions that a lot of the money raised when Liz took charge didn't make it back into the school activities fund. While Liz is raising cash she hasn't lost her eye for sugar daddies -- one teacher in the school is an heir to a family fortune, Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake). Single male teachers, like gym teacher Russell Gettis (Jason Segel), have turned their eyes to the newbie and all is set for an R rated comedy fest . . . especially when Liz learns that there is a $5700 prize awarded to the best teacher in the State.

It isn't that Liz is going to teach, mind you. She is going to find out the contents of the test <!> and, well, for moral standards, Ms. Halsey would receive an "F"

Bad Teacher tries really, really hard to push the limits and make its audience grin start to finish. There an attempt to twang the heart strings when Liz virtually pushes a fat, single teacher Lynn Davies (Phyllis Smith) into the arms of a costumed cowboy at a school dance. And who could fault teach for stealing a crystal dolphin keepsake from a student's home to give to give to her dolphin loving Principal Wally Snur (John Michael Higgins) -- he's adopted two, Simon and Ajax, who live in the Cayman Islands.

These are the roots of the story that will play out, perhaps redeeming the gold-digging teach. Perhaps not. The greatest flaw in Bad Teacher is in its most basic design of one teacher for a seventh grade class. We went to school in New York. We went to college in Illinois and had some teaching interaction with the school kids there. By seventh grade there are home rooms and separate classes and teachers every 45 minutes. Why Bad Teacher isn't set in an elementary school is the big question. Sure, you wouldn't want to expose single digit kidlets to Ms. Halsey's extracurricular activities but that isn't a major part of the screenplay and, with an "R" rating, only idiot parents would be taking their kids in to the theater.

It's basically all downhill after the car wash, but that's good enough for most red blooded males. Now, if only Justin Timberlake were to sing a song for the girls in the audience. Oh wait, he does! <tee hee>

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Bad Teacher, he would have paid . . .


Bad Teacher? An adequate movie. A disposable dateflick. End of alliteration.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.