Do you have moments when you really just need to watch a silly and carefree movie? Did you like “Orange County”, the quirky 2002 comedy about Jack Black trying to get his brother Colin Hanks into college?
If your answer to either of these questions is “yes”, “Bad Teacher” will make you laugh. The loving opening credits show every film image of adored and hard-working teachers from TV and movies. Then, you are shoved off to a harsher world that is very funny and modern.
Try this dialogue:
Pupil: I wear this sweater because it’s all I have of my father since he left”.
Teacher “Honey, there are reasons he left that sweater”.
It won’t cure cancer or give you new thoughts on education, but this film feels original and fresh. Director Jake Kasdan (“Orange County”) has a light touch with humour of the wry and slightly cynical variety.
Cameron Diaz is a bad teacher. She shows films to her pupils, so we know she’s REALLY bad. She talks her way out of trouble every time she’s caught out, but her real interest is in finding a rich husband. (Oh yes, there’s that sound of feminism being flushed away, again).
To get her man, Cameron needs bigger breasts, so you get a few jokes and scenes about cosmetic surgery. I think Diaz is one of the great young comic actresses and she carries this off with great style and humour.
The supporting cast has some real talents, from Lucy Punch to Jason Segel and including Phyllis Smith, John Michael Higgins and a very funny Justin Timberlake. The kids are mostly of the “not annoying” variety.
If casual drug-taking, drinking alcohol and cheating at exams bother you when they are shown on-screen, skip this. There are no lessons about humility or integrity here. If you are used to drugs and drinking and swearing and poor role models being in films, there’s a sardonic take on the meaning of success and some lovely physical and verbal humour here.
Very few people were at Stratford Picturehouse to see this and the audience was mostly women and older than usual. We all laughed out loud an awful lot.
If you want depth, go see “Life In One Day” or “Senna”, both of which have affecting and profound messages. If you need big action, “Green Lantern” hits that spot. “Bad Teacher” succeeds, for me, because it shows very human failings and turns around the conventions of the “devotion” of schoolteachers. I won’t buy the DVD but it passes the time amusingly enough. I will watch it on TV, when it eventually gets shown.