Dir: Jake Kasdan
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel
Bad Teacher, the latest film from ‘Walk Hard’ director Jake Kasdan, squirms onto screens this week. However, don’t expect the quirky satire of the underrated ‘Walk Hard’, Bad Teacher is a rotten attempt at a black comedy that is baffling in its ineptitude. The team behind this mess could do with some lessons themselves but let’s start with basic film titling. The first thing they should teach in film school would be to avoid potential negative adjectives describing your film in its title? Hate to be this obvious, but here goes; Bad Teacher is a bad movie.
Cameron Diaz plays Liz Halsey, a selfish layabout whose only ambition in life is to find a rich man to fund her extravagant lifestyle. However, after her fiancé decides he’s had enough, she’s out on her ass and is forced to return to her old job as a teacher. Lucky for her, it’s not long before an affluent substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake) appears on the scene and Liz plans to do whatever it takes to get into his life. It would seem like a decent set up, but the plot completely flounders and fails to find a solid direction or pace. New ideas and threads are introduced arbitrarily with the majority of them going absolutely nowhere. Scenes crash into each other with no sense of cohesion, a testament to both the poor writing and weak editing. The film honestly feels like it was adapted from the first, very rough, draft of a script. Except someone tossed away random pages. And then took whatever pages were left, scrumpled them up, stuck em’ in a bingo machine and let it decide how it should all fit together. It’s a wreck.
The performances are all around weak, and a distinct lack of comedic timing is present throughout the entire cast. Diaz certainly nails her role as a stone cold bitch, but it’s to a fault. She is endlessly selfish from beginning to end with no arc whatsoever and its impossible to care for her character. At no point does she suffer for his misdeeds and the film feels morally bankrupt as a result. The cast overall lacks charm or chemistry, and the characterisations are more bizarre than actually funny. In fact, there’s not really anything funny about the film at all. Sure there are jokes, but they’re uninspired and poorly played, and there’s no cohesive comedy sensibility to the film. It utterly fails to nail down a comedic style, and as a result is a bit of a mess.
Bad Teacher suffers from a whole heap of problems that render it near unwatchable, most of which can be traced back to a woeful screenplay. It fails at telling a story and creating characters worth caring about. This might score a pass if the film was genuinely funny, but it really isn’t. Bad Teacher is an insipid and contrived stain of a movie, about as much fun as a junior cert English paper, and probably half as well written.