Cameron Diaz burst onto the scene with her memorable role as the gangster's moll in The Mask, and from then on it's no turning back as her filmography grew by playing the quintessential ditzy blonde countless of times to perfection. In Bad Teacher comes the opportunity to play a foul mouthed, bad attitude, gold digging man-eater who's constantly on the prowl for man and money to fulfill her desire of... enhancing her boobs. Tis the season to venture out of your comfort zone, like what Jennifer Aniston did with her role in Horrible Bosses, and now it's Cameron Diaz's turn in this film by Jake Kasdan.
So Diaz plays middle school teacher Elizabeth Halsey, who thought she could finally escape a life of mediocrity having hooked up with a rich man, only for that impending marriage to be broken up, and her life come crashing back down to reality again, rejoining the school she can't seem to leave, and then setting up a new goal in life - getting boob implants because of her belief that the bigger the boobs, the richer the man she's able to attract. In between she's the teacher you'd love to have, not only looking good, but possessing just a one track educational plan - screening videos in class everyday so that she can sleep off her hangover. Comedy comes in the form of watching how this teacher is anything but a role model, swearing, embezzling and abusing drugs being her daily routine, in front of and behind her kids in school.
Unfortunately as a friend commented, the trailer for this film was miles better than the movie, and he's correct. Whoever did the trailer for the film inserted all the best bits in a typically logical order, only for the film to reveal that it's episodic in nature and scenes somehow felt they were pieced together quite forcefully, where the flow doesn't feel natural especially when it's supposed to take place in middle school over a period of a school year (for instance it's suddenly a winter break), but the school kids themselves are largely invisible here save for 2 kids for Elizabeth to show how naughty and nice she can be. There's a perplexing overemphasis on Elizbaeth's boob ambition which brings on the laughs of course, but little else, and a number of subplots and characters that come, go and got themselves forgotten.
There's the infatuation with Justin Timberlake's relief Math teacher Scott Delacorte who comes with a pedigree family name and bank account, which sets up the subplot of a three way romantic battle between Elizabeth and the resident teacher she loathes, Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), who is hell bent on exposing Elizabeth for the bad teacher she is. Nothing fancy here except rolling your eyes at Amy's exasperated antics, much like Coyote and Road Runner where you'd just know whatever stunt Amy tries to pull, she's never going to get the better of Elizabeth because it's just written in the stars of film plotting. Jason Segel plays gym teacher Russell Gettis whose scenes seemed to have a huge chunk of development dropped from the film, relegating him to back up plan status especially when there's a need for something to insert into the finale.
The scene stealer in the show happened to be Justin Timberlake, who played his immature teacher to perfection, scoring probably one of funniest (and strangest) scenes in the entire film that have to be seen to be believed. He's on a roll in recent times since his outing in The Social Network, and his filmography bursting this year with two more upcoming films (in Singapore) with Friends with Benefits, and In Time. Cameron Diaz tried hard to break out of her ditzy blonde roles with the mean streak inherited from her character Elizabeth, but try as hard as you may, it still isn't wild enough to totally break the typecast Diaz is known for.
Ultimately Bad Teacher isn't bad but it still fell short in delivering where it mattered - the laughs - lacking the distinction it could have gotten if it had found a smoother narrative flow, and not let its trailer set expectations up for a fall.