There are a few truths that I hold to be self-evident. Peanut M&Ms will always be better than Plain M&Ms. Traffic will always jam up on the beltline between 7-8am and 3:30-5:30pm. Cameron Diaz talking like a truck driver is always better than Diaz in a romantic comedy. For some reason, Diaz playing a foul mouthed, cynic also seems a more natural fit for her.
Bad Teacher doesn’t come close to mimicking the uncouth comic genius that was 2003’s Bad Santa, but it tries. Elizabeth Halsey (Diaz) is a discourteous, gold-digging, foul-mouthed junior high school teacher. Dumped by her fiancé’ she is forced to retain her teaching job, which she puts a little effort into as possible.
That is, until she figures out how to monetize off her students academic success.
While there are moments that had the potential for fantastic raunchy comedy, they are matched with just as many weak plot points.
There are a couple subplots of Miss Halsey inappropriately trying to raise money for breast implants, a romantic storyline involving one of the students and Diaz wooing a fellow teacher, but none of it goes anywhere. A rivalry between Elizabeth and a goodie-two-shoes teacher is what feeds most of the story and I think that’s where the focus should have been.
It was impossible for me to separate the attempt to mirror Bad Santa. In that story, Billy Bob Thornton is a disgusting human being because it feeds his criminal behavior. Here, Diaz is just a slacker who wants the easy road to riches. I guess if she worked harder at being terrible, that would be a good thing.
While it’s hard not to focus on Diaz, the supporting male roles did entertain me. I’ve been a fan of Jason Segel for a while. He plays the Gym Teacher at the school who is just as attracted to Elizabeth’s bad characteristics as her good ones. The regular guy who is 20% sleaze-ball, is the character I like to see him play. Justin Timberlake plays a light-headed substitute teacher like he’s playing in a sketch on Saturday Night Live. He’s well aware that he’s being goofy.
Loving the anti-hero is no crime. They’re sometimes more attractive. Diaz is certainly attractive. As Jimmy Buffett says “I’ve read dozens of books about heroes and crooks and learned much from both of their styles. “
Bad Teacher needed more to it. Maybe more tequila.