As “Bad Teacher” opens this weekend, it joins a mixed bag of summer comedies. While we’re still giggling over certain “Bridesmaids” moments and can’t wait to take in a second viewing on DVD, “The Hangover Part II” left us reaching for a copy of the original film to remind us why we were so taken with that boozy cinematic bunch. But hey, the second “Hangover” has grossed almost $500 million worldwide, so what the heck do we know?
The Cameron Diaz-starring laugher , according to the critics, falls closer to the letdown that was the second “Hangover” than the revelatory “Bridesmaids.” Reviewers have criticized the film for plot holes galore and poor character development, even as most have admitted it delivers a hefty helping of laughs. Read on for a deeper dive into the critics’ take on “Bad Teacher.”
“Director Jake Kasdan coaxes some laughs out of the film, but only Jason Segel, as a cynical gym teacher, seems like a real person instead of a caricature. Everyone else seems like they’re trying just a touch too hard. Elizabeth Halsey (Diaz) gets dumped by the rich guy she was going to marry for money, forcing her to come back for another year of teaching junior-high English. But she is not without goals; her immediate one is to figure out how to get enough money to pay for breast implants, which she thinks will help her more easily land a replacement sugar daddy. The operation is tough to afford on a teacher’s salary, of course. But one day handsome Scott Delacorte (Timberlake), the heir to a watch-making fortune, shows up as a substitute teacher, giving Elizabeth a suitable target.” — Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic
“The movie, of course, belongs to Diaz. She’s always projected a sort of girlfriend-gone-wild sass that suggested she’s a hell of a lot of fun after a couple of mango margaritas; ‘Bad Teacher’ is one of the few films that’s allowed her to show that. And not only does she show it, she flaunts it, from a wardrobe that’s tighter than next year’s school budget to a vocabulary that’s definitely not on any standardized test. But she’s not alone. The wonderful Lucy Punch — the gold digger from ‘You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger’ — is a nagging toothache as a too-perfect teacher. Comic actors such as Thomas Lennon drop by for brief but marvelous scenes, and Jason Segal is a menschy gym teacher. Justin Timberlake, however, remains too cool to really commit to his oddball character, a substitute teacher that the man-hungry Diaz fixates on.” — Stephen Whitty, New Jersey Star-Ledger
The ‘Bad’ Comparisons
” ‘Bad Teacher’ wants to be ‘Bad Santa’ but it’s afraid to go as far as Billy Bob Thornton’s gleeful middle finger to holidays and proper treatment of children. So it ends up trapped in a nowhere middle-ground, somewhere between ‘Bad Santa’ and the equally hilarious but family friendly Jack Black movie ‘School of Rock.’ Both of those movies had somewhere to go and a way to get there, but ‘Bad Teacher’ just goes and doesn’t really seem to know where it’s going. The script has its moments and the cast has a few too.” — Josh Tyler, Cinema Blend
“The main problem with ‘Bad Teacher’ is that it’s really just one joke, which is stretched further than the uneven script by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg (vets of TV’s ‘The Office’) will permit. Jake Kasdan’s flat direction doesn’t help. … ‘Bad Teacher’ has its amusing moments, but also many where you can’t help wondering about the comedic choices. If you’re going to have the hung-over instructor getting her young charges to watch movies all day, aren’t there funnier picks than just a succession of teacher-themed movies? And if you’ve already decided your film is going to get an American ‘R’ rating — the profanity alone guarantees that — then why not take a few more risks with your comedy?” — Peter Howell, Toronto Star
The Final Word
” ‘Bad Teacher’ does not always connect with every joke, and there’s one character in particular that seems to have been abandoned by the screenwriters midstream, but when the film works, it contains some wicked belly laughs, and I’ll give Cameron Diaz credit for this: she seems delighted to play a total a–hole.” — Drew McWeeny, HitFix
Check out everything we’ve got on “Bad Teacher.”
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