I have a problem when it comes to watching movies, sometimes. A lot of times, see, I just can’t watch a movie for what it IS without getting caught up in thinking what it could’ve been. Or should’ve been. Perhaps it’s the repressed directorial fantasies I harbor. LOL. Regardless, when I come across a movie like “Bad Teacher” I can’t help getting fixated on “Why didn’t they just”s…
I mean, it’s got a great premise, really, doesn’t it? I can totally imagine the pitch meeting… “Alright, are you ready for this?? Baaad Teeacher!! Huh? Huh?” And I’m in, you know, green light! ‘Cause it sounds fun. Comedy potential galore. There’s certainly enough talent on board, and you’re not going to have any trouble filling the trailer with jokes, so lets do this thing!
And some of that makes its way to the screen, sure. Diaz shows movies in class all day every day and sleeps through them. She openly mocks some of her students, drinks during class, and gets high in the parking lot. Only somewhere along the way, “Bad Teacher” becomes “Bad Co-Worker”. I think in the end, the ratio of time shown with Diaz’s character (Jesus, I just came from the movie and I can’t remember her name. LOL. I could lie right here and look it up, but isn’t it more telling that I can’t even remember the lead characters name 20 minutes after watching the freaking movie?) teaching vs dealing with her fellow teachers and her principal is like, 5 to 1 in the wrong direction. I went in wanting to see the anti “Stand and Deliver”, you know? School of Rock, except the teacher doesn’t give a crap! I asked myself at one point, didn’t anybody involved in this movie ever see “The Bad News Bears”? Just bring it inside for Christ’s sakes!
But no. Instead of a teacher vs students scenario, it’s teacher vs rival teacher. Which could have had potential too, except the rival teacher they put her up against was a horrible cartoon caricature of a person. And really does the movie a disservice.
What we’re left with after all of that is serviceable enough. There are enough funny bits of what you’d expect from the premise, mingled with really good support from most of the supporting cast. Justin Timberlake is really funny as the super nerd new teacher, he definitely steals the scenes he’s in, and has some of the movies funniest moments. Jason Segel is pretty funny actually as the voice of reason, and Phyllis Smith is good in limited action, even if she is basically playing her persona from “The Office”. Diaz, you know, to me, doesn’t bring a lot to the table here. She’s funny, but I dont know how much I would credit her vs the material, you know? I think anyone is going to come off funny with some of the raunchy shit she’s given to say. It’s just not a good sign when your lead is the fourth funniest comedian on the list.
To her credit though, she IS given an unlikeable character to play. See, the problem with unlikeable characters is that audiences don’t like them. So it’s to Diaz’s credit that we stick with her despite her character, Elizabeth (I looked it up) Halsey’s numerous, grating personality defects. To the movies great credit, they dont go full out redemptive character arc – because that’s the total cliche, right there, right? At some point she sees the light and realizes “*GASP* Children ARE our future” and starts to teach her ass off and care about students and shit…. mmmmm No. Thankfully they avoid that pitfall.
The movie opened big yesterday (for what it is), and my showing was packed tonight. So it looks as though it’s going to open well. Which may mean, in this day and age, that we get a sequel. Oh yes, they close with a potential sequel tease, (it’s like the 8th movie I’ve seen this summer that has blatantly done it) And you know? I think I’d like to see it, only because the direction they set it up in has potential to mine what this movie should have mined wayyyy more fully.
There’s worse movies out there than this, but this one could have been so much better. B-