Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bad Teacher

Bad Teacher
Year: 2011
Director: Jake Kasdan
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel, Lucy Punch
In My Own Words
                Hooray! Cameron Diaz is back to what she does so well, the comedies! I love Diaz when she is in comedies and light hearted movies and then I see her in the dramatic roles and I think she is bland. Actually that is a little harsh, let’s just say I find her more endearing and likable in the roles which she is most remembered for, such as The Mask, There’s Something About Mary, Charlie’s Angels and The Sweetest Thing. Even in Bad Teacher where her character is so unethically inclined and is the type of person I would hate in real life, she is still likable. It’s a good problem to have, being likable in every role you do your niche. I think I also have a soft spot for Diaz as she is from Long Beach in California, which is where I used to live for a time!
                An experience in the cinema today got me thinking. I had a middle aged couple sitting behind me when the film started. They seemed really “happy-go-lucky” laughing with each other before the movie began. Then 10 minutes into the film, I had to turn around and politely tell them to please stop talking. Judging by their body language then, they did not look like they were enjoying the movie at all. Sometime in the next five minutes, they left the film.
                Personally I have never walked out of a film. I can’t comprehend spending money on a film and then not seeing the whole thing. Even if I am not enjoying it, I give the film the benefit of the doubt and stay just in case it does get better. I can understand some people can get really offended by a film and feel they have to leave for personal reasons. If people are offended by the language or the violent content of a film, that does make me confused. The censorship ratings are there for a reason. People should really take notice of them. Bad Teacher is rated M 15+ for sexual references, sex scenes, drug use and coarse language. This doesn’t mean they may be there, they are there. If these things offend you, then maybe you shouldn’t see the film.
                These are my own words and here is my review.
                2011 is the year of girls behaving badly in film. Bad Teacher continues on this trend, yet brings something different to the table. It is truly a one woman show led by Cameron Diaz and is very funny. However, it is one of those comedies which relies more on the jokes than on the storyline and the story dissolves into the jokes.
                Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) doesn’t like being a teacher, and she likes it even less when she has to come back from retirement after she is dumped by her fiancé. She decides that in order to be happy she needs to get breast implants, but she needs to raise at least $9000. When she meets new teacher, Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake), her ambition grows to impress this awkward but attractive colleague. She has to compete with another teacher, Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch) to get the man and in all her spite and competitiveness, Elizabeth ends up doing some things right.
                The huge problem with this film is that the story and the script do not blend with the comedy to make a successful film. There are many jokes which are irrelevant to what is going on and there are actually a lot of questions left unanswered. It is as though director Jake Kasdan is more concerned with getting the audience to laugh rather than provide them with a journey. Granted, there are some very funny moments. Some comedy moments may feel a bit over the top and just plain ridiculous to some people. There are some crude moments, but for a comedy about a woman obsessed with getting herself breast implants, what would you expect? However, it could have been a lot worse than what it was considering the subject matter.
The script doesn’t address anything which happens before or after the film such as where the characters are from and why they are the way they are. In other words, the character development is just weak and almost non-existent. For example, Elizabeth clearly has no family in the film, but what happened to them? Where are they? Why is Elizabeth the way she is? Did something happen to her or was she bought up that way? Anybody watching this does not feel as though they really know Elizabeth even after watching her for an hour and a half.
Cameron Diaz does do a very good job at playing the bad girl heroine. She is very funny and manages to still be likable while playing someone who is not supposed to be so. Diaz has the “I don’t give a hoot what you are talking about” look down to a tee. Her character of Elizabeth is actually quite unsettling at times and is believable how scheming she is. Diaz was perfectly cast in this film and it is refreshing to see her play a character which is a twist on her stereotypical good girl roles in her comedy films.
Jason Segel is great as gym teacher Russell Gettis with his sarcastic and random comedy moments. Justin Timberlake is good enough, but the nerdiness of the character could have been pushed further. He still seems too cool to be a dork. His song, “Simpatico” is a real treat in the film. Lucy Punch achieves what she sets out to achieve with her character by being irritating and increasing the attractiveness of Diaz’s character. However, her character does provide another unanswered questioned for the film. What was it that she did in 2008 which everybody keeps talking about throughout the film?     
Bad Teacher isn’t one of the best written films you will see as far as the story goes, yet it does give some laughs and some great one-liners. Diaz is the shining star and it is impossible to believe that this film would have been anything at all without her.

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