Movie Review: Bad Teacher

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In the slew of new summer movies, there are a few that are bound to disappoint. Columbia Pictures’ newest release “Bad Teacher” is one of those movies.

The story follows junior high school teacher Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz), a foul-mouthed marijuana smoker who prefers to show movies in class rather than actually teach. Her initial plans to escape the teaching profession are dashed when her sugar daddy demands a divorce, but she soon begins to woo the new substitute in order to hopefully use his money for a boob job. This scheme, however, pits her against another teacher (Lucy Punch) and begins a trend of mischief and payback.

The movie starts out relatively fine, but soon the plot becomes disjointed. Writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg try to give too much depth to Elizabeth without allowing enough emotion to come through. It seems the entire subplot of the relationship between her and her students was an afterthought and doesn’t do much to move the story forward. Other scenes also lack fluidity, with the journey to the peak of the plot a series of disconnected moments.

Elizabeth’s constant usage of marijuana also seems overdone. Many scenes consist solely of her and a pipe or bong—these become repetitive and fail to help develop her character after the first reference.

Cameron’s portrayal of Elizabeth is done well, considering “Bad Teacher” resembles most other movies Diaz has starred in. But despite this decent performance, Elizabeth is the weakest character in the movie. Even Phyllis Smith’s (“The Office”) small role as fellow teacher Lynn Davies overpowers Diaz, and actually provides more laughs. Justin Timberlake, who plays the substitute Scott Delacorte, also shines as he brings his quirky character to life. But, despite the two dating a few years ago, there is little chemistry between him and Diaz.

Perhaps the biggest let down of the movie is that Jason Segal’s character, a gym teacher named Russell Gettis whose life goal is to woo Elizabeth, is not more prominent. Segal delivers witty one-liners that continually amuse the audience, but the lack of screen time he receives results in a somewhat flat character.

Still, between the thin plot and undeveloped characters lies a few shining moments of comedy. “Bad Teacher” is not something to suffer through, but perhaps a movie best watched on DVD instead of on the big screen.

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