So, last Friday night, I went and saw the new Cameron Diaz comedy, Bad Teacher. Right now, all sorts of mainstream critics are running out of ways to trash this film but, for the most part, they seem to overlooking one important fact. Flawed and unfocused as this film may be, it’s funny. It made me laugh, it made Jeff laugh, it made my sister laugh, and it made my friend Evelyn laugh. (Of course, according to Evelyn, I laugh at everything, even if it means I’m the only person laughing, but that’s another story. Hi, Evelyn!) It also made almost the entire audience laugh. Admittedly, it was a small audience. I guess everyone else was busy crying at Cars 2. (It’s a Pixar film after all.) As for Bad Teacher, it may not be a great film but it works.
Anyway, Bad Teacher tells the story of a very bad teacher, played by Cameron Diaz. She doesn’t care about her students, goes out of her way to antagonize her fellow students, and shows up to work everyday either hungover or stoned. She’s also snobbish, petty, shallow, and you’d totally hate her except for the fact that 1) you can’t help but admire the way that Diaz throws herself into being as crass and as shallow as possible (she may be playing a vain character but there’s no vanity in her performance) and 2) every other teacher in the school is so annoyingly perky and movie perfect that you can’t help but share Diaz’s disgust with them.
Anyway, Diaz is teaching because her rich fiancée has dumped her. (One of the better jokes in the film is the number of lies that Diaz comes up with to explain why her engagement ended.) She is content to spend the school day asleep while her class watches movies featuring other, better teachers. However, then she meets the new substitute teacher who is really kinda creepy with his constant “up with humanity” perkiness but is also 1) rich and 2) played Justin Timberlake so he’s like totally hot. However, Timberlake is dating Diaz’s sworn enemy, the incredibly upbeat Amy Squirrel (played by Lucy Pond). Diaz realizes that the only way she’ll ever capture Timberlake’s attention is if she can raise the money necessary to get bigger boobs. The rest of the film basically deals with Diaz’s efforts to raise the money for her boob job (among other things, she accepts bribes from parents and embezzles from the school car wash) while continuing to pursue Timberlake and be pursued by the gym teacher (Jason Segal).
That’s actually a lot of plot for an 89 minute film and, as a result, Bad Teacher does feel overly episodic and ultimately disjointed. But so what? I laughed consistently for 89 minutes and that’s the important thing. It’s not that the film itself is filled with witty lines as much as it’s the fact that the entire cast so totally throws themselves into playing these genuinely odd characters. Pond steals every scene she’s in and Timberlake especially seems to be having fun spoofing his own image. If you think that watching people dry hump while fully clothed can’t be hilarious, than you haven’t seen Justin Timberlake in Bad Teacher.
For me, there were two other things that made Bad Teacher a success.
1) It confirms what we all always suspected and knew in middle school and high school — that our teachers were a bunch of horny, pot-smoking degenerates. Admittedly, I used to actually get high with my drama teacher — shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone! — but I’ve always figured that same was probably true of every high school drama student. This film confirms that the history and math teachers were just as stoned.
2) It features this scene, which got laughs and applause from the Dallas audience that I saw it with: