Dave White
Bad Teacher Review

Dave's Rating:


Not bad enough.

Who's In It: Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel, John Michael Higgins, Lucy Punch

The Basics: A terrible middle-school teacher (no explanation given for how she got her certification) looking to make an easy buck so she can pay for breast enhancement surgery lazily passes each period drinking and showing movies to her students. In her free time she sits in the school parking lot smoking weed and listening to Dio in her car, stealing money from the class car wash fund, tormenting other teachers, blackmailing school officials and stealing standardized tests. Don't be fooled into thinking this is the hot chick version of Bad Santa, though. It's set in a school, after all, so lessons are still on the menu.

What's The Deal: There are just enough laughs in this movie to almost make you forget that there's very little supporting them. They're the kind of gags you've seen before in "edgy" comedy and they land in all the spots you expect, but as you laugh along with them it's impossible to escape the fact that the movie itself just isn't very good. It's 90 minutes and feels longer, thanks to funny moments surrounded by way too much dead air. And it's also why, if you were a teacher yourself, you'd have to give the whole thing a C-minus. It's got plenty of potential that it never bothers to use and wastes most of its R-rating behaving like a timid PG-13. Not dark enough, not mean enough, not harsh enough, not brave enough to really take the subject matter anywhere dangerous, it mostly acts like its been called into the principal's office for bad behavior and now wants to fake-apologize its way out of detention.

Who Deserves Better: Diaz and Timberlake. She appears to be straining against the limits of the script, ready to take a more evil path than the situation allows. Meanwhile, her ex-boyfriend is given way too little to do besides act generically goofy. His character is even more underwritten than an "Omeletteville" sketch on SNL. I sat in the press screening wishing that Andy Samberg could somehow swoop in, take over and make it even half as funny as one of the digital short films that Timberlake often guest stars in.

MVP: Jason Segel has all the best reaction shots and deadpan lines, delivered in ways that suggest that not only does his character have everybody else's number, the actor himself realizes that he's in a movie that's beneath his abilities. He saves every scene he's in; he's just not in enough of them.

Watch These Dangerous Minds Instead: 1999's Election. The teachers are hilarious criminal and the kids are not much better. Nobody apologizes, gets off easy or learns a damn thing, just like in real life.


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