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Bad Teacher

A movie directed by Jake Kasdan

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She Deserves an F, and so Do the Filmmakers

  • Jun 25, 2011
Star Rating:

Bad Teacher is about a woman whose badness far exceeds her teaching. She’s rude, dishonest, manipulative, superficial, unsympathetic, and cruel. The movie should have been called Bad Person. Her name is Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz), a Chicago gold digger. The film begins with her leaving her junior high teaching position after only one year; she chose the job because of the easy opportunities to do the bare minimum, but her real dream is to live on easy street as the wife of a rich man. Not long after leaving, she’s dumped by her husband, who, miraculously, just discovered that she only married him for his money. With no place to live and no source of income, she’s forced to go back into teaching. When she’s not swearing, drinking, smoking pot, or hurting someone’s feelings, she saving up for a pair of breast implants.
What infuriates me is that director Jake Kasdan and writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky want us to see her as a funny character. We’re supposed to laugh as she shows up in school with a hangover, or when she pummels her students with handballs when they give an incorrect answer, or when she destroys the life and career of a rival teacher, or when she seduces a man for the answer key to a state test, or when she makes fun of a male student for being sensitive and then telling him that he won’t blossom until college, and even then it’s iffy. I only recently learned of the Darwin Awards, which “honors” individuals who contribute to the evolution of humanity by being stupid and inadvertently killing themselves; there needs to be an additional category for people like Elizabeth Halsey, who may not be dumb but are so monumentally heartless and irredeemable that we’d be better off without them.

The taglines for this movie are all correct – she truly could not give an F. She’s selfish and mean. She spends almost the entire year not assigning her class any homework or giving out tests. Instead, she has them watch movies themed around inner city kids and tough teachers, such as Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, and Lean on Me. How she gets away with this for so long is left a little obscure, although it’s suggested that she can weasel her way out of any situation by flaunting her feminine assets. Being played by Diaz, you can rest assured that she has them in spades. She earns money for her operation by any means necessary, including embezzling earnings from an annual car wash fundraiser (in which she dresses like a Playboy centerfold and gets herself soaking wet), getting paid extra by the students’ parents for doing nothing, and fixing the results of her students’ state tests, which allowed her to receive a bonus.
She sets her sights on the new substitute teacher, Scott Delacorte (emphasis on the “corte”), a young man so trusting and clueless that you just want to beat him senseless. Not only is he incredibly handsome, he’s also from a long line of watchmakers and is heir to his family’s fortune. He’s played by Justin Timberlake, and perhaps there is something amusing about the fact he and Diaz were at one time a real-life couple. Do you think this made it awkward for them to star in a scene in which he dry-humps her and ejaculates in his jeans? I digress. Standing in Elizabeth’s way is fellow teacher Amy Squirrell (Lucy Punch), who may be annoyingly wholesome on the outside but within is a seething basket case. And yet, every suspicion she has about Elizabeth is correct, and her hatred is justified. No one will listen to her, of course.

Somehow, the filmmakers work in something resembling a romance between Elizabeth and Russell, the school gym teacher (Jason Segel). She initially can’t stand the sight of him, although he’s clearly more her type than Scott is. That anyone could be her type is nothing short of miraculous. What is it about her he finds so attractive, and I mean besides her looks? The film never bothers to delve deeply into this, which is just as well; anyone who believes they belong with a person this vile is undeserving of analysis. It’s precisely because of these characters that we’re made to endure an ending that’s not only astoundingly implausible and thematically inconsistent with the rest of the film, but is also in very poor taste.
Oh, how I hated this woman. How I hated the belief that she could make the movie funny. How I hated the belief that anything about the movie was funny. If you see it with a boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, or casual acquaintance, and you notice them laughing, you might want to rethink your decision to be in their lives. If you’re reading this right now and you laughed all throughout, I feel very sorry for you. We don’t need movies like Bad Teacher in our lives. They’re like saturated fats and processed sugars and refined carbohydrates; they may make what you’re eating taste good, but they’re slowly poisoning you into an early grave. The sooner we realize this, the better off we’ll be. This horrendous excuse of a movie deserves an F. Not one of those discrete F’s put on a page corner, but a giant, underlined, circled, red F that sprawls across the entire piece of paper.


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June 25, 2011
I was mildly curious about this one since I do have an attraction to black comedies when done right, but it seems like the writing as dropped the ball. Thanks! I fell asleep when we saw it... I know I am bad! (you don't want the story, I am almost embarrassed why I fell asleep LOL!)
June 26, 2011
Trust me, falling asleep was the best thing you could have done (apart from not going to the movie in the first place). Seriously though, I cannot get into movies in which we're supposed to laugh at cruel characters.
June 25, 2011
What a bummer...this is the second review I read that gave it a poor rating...I was kinda hoping it was going to be a dark comedy because I liked the cast. Thanks for another great review!
June 25, 2011
I'm happy you were willing to read it all the way through. Let's face it -- I was venomous. Movies like this just make me so mad.
June 25, 2011
well, we did try to see it but I cannot review it....since I fell asleep LOL!
June 26, 2011
See, Chris- apparently you were cruel but, correct! My hubby said, let's go see that after work since I know you wanted to. Then, I said- ummm...let's wait for Netflix, there's negative reviews all over Lunch about it. LOL...
June 27, 2011
It's nice to know the Lunch community helps you in deciding what you do and don't want to see. On reflection, however, I think I was just a little too nasty in my review for this movie. I'm not saying I like it more now than the day I saw it; I'm saying that I probably should have held my anger towards it back a bit.
More Bad Teacher reviews
review by . February 11, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Who said Cameron Diaz couldn't act? In Bad Teacher, she turns in a performance which is as remarkable for Diaz's portrayal of complete, uncaring depravity as it is for her awesome, finely honed comedic chops. Diaz pulls no punches whatsoever as the lead character, Elizabeth Halsey, a scumbucket of a human being who has somehow convinced the faculty of the local middle school that she's the best teacher who ever lived. Her performance is on par in its no-holds-barred grit and against-type derring-do …
review by . July 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
            I’ll not be the first to say it but Bad Teacher is bad and not in a good way. This movie suffers from the ultimate fault of bad writing. I wouldn’t be surprised if even on paper this movie remains a shallowed hollowed out shell of a dark comedy. Unlike good dark comedies that use the word Bad in the title, first of which I mention Bad Santa, Bad Teacher’s lead character Elizabeth Halsey (played by Cameron Diaz) is not as bad as she is boring …
review by . June 24, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Growing up I don't know if I ever had a teacher who didn't care one bit. All of my teachers, at the very least, could put on a show so I was none the wiser. It was tough to tell what to expect from the movie, most of the trailers just featured the same one liners that weren't all that funny to begin with. The premise was good and had the potential to be hilarious if it was written from the perspective of a disgruntled teacher, it wasn't. While expectations were low the movie still …
review by . June 24, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Too Cool for School
BAD TEACHER   Written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg   Directed by Jake Kasdan   Starring Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Lucy Punch and Justin Timberlake      The movies offer a long line of great educators to draw inspiration from. There’s Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver; Morgan Freeman in Lean on Me; and even Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds. And while that last example might seem a bit of a stretch, she is still infinitely …
review by . June 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   15 - 92mins - Comedy - 17th June 2011 Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) has somehow found herself as a school teacher during her life when all she wants to do is grab a man with lots of money who can provide for her. With her former fiancé having worked out the truth and ditching her, Elizabeth has to return and teach for yet another school year much to her frustration. Not only does she have to teach the children but also has to keep the principal (John Michael Higgins) and …
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I'm glad that I didn't fully listen to all the naysayers here and checked this out for an afternoon matinee today. That's not to say they're wrong because this is no Hangover or even a Get Him to the Greek but, I found it a perfect brain candy movie that gave me a few laughs.      I thought JT was HILARIOUS- his Simpatico song was great and Diaz did a good job as did the other cast mates. I had never heard of Lucy Punch and thought she did an amazing job as the …
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #5
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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About this movie



Director: Jake Kasdan
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: 24 June 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg
Runtime: 92 min
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"Reviewed: Bad Teacher [2011]"
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