Doing The Minimum Effort
Director: Jake Kasdan
Writers: Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg
Stars: Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Justin Timberlake, Lucy Punch, Phyllis Smith, John Michael Higgins
SYNOPSIS: When a disinterested junior high teacher Elizabeth Halsey gets dumped by her rich fiancee, she sets her sights on a wealthy substitute teacher to make end meet, much to the chagrin of a well-loved teacher.
REVIEW: Director Jake Kasdan, best known for helming Orange County and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, takes a script from Year One and television's The Office scribe team Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg to bring a raunchy, randy look at junior high school life - this time from the point of view of the overworked and underpaid staff.
What happens when you team Cameron Diaz, How I Met Your Mother's Jason Segel and the always watchable, in demand and busy Justin Timberlake? How about an adult sexy school comedy is part adult Mean Girls and School of Rock.
Where School of Rock takes a desperate broke musician and thrusts him into a private school substitute teacher role with an ulterior motive to try and win the Battle of the Bands competition using the kids in his class, Bad Teacher takes a desperate full-time public school junior high teacher Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) found out by her fiancee to be a gold digger, forcing her to return to the school system she just left to make the rent. Along the way, she attempts to woo a wealthy substitute teacher Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake), clashes with the goody-goody, super chipper fellow teacher Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), and shields against the advances of the gym teacher Russell Gettis (Jason Segel) while trying to raise money for a boob job in an attempt to make herself feel better about herself.
Cameron Diaz is sultry cool as Halsey, her piercing blue eyes, wicked mouth and golden blonde curls eating up her scenes. She wears her character's distain, displeasure and disinterest like a tight, curvy well-loved T-shirt. Fellow educator Amy Squirrel played by Lucy Punch provides a perfect ticky, twitchy foil to Diaz, a teacher with goofy methods and a dedication to the children of her class and a threadbare sunny deposition ready to crack at any moment - like what happened back in 2008, according to dolphin-loving Principal Wally Snur, played by John Michael Higgins. The real scene-stealers, though, are Jason Segel's gym teacher Russell Gettis with his laid back,"ah shucks", water down a duck's back tireless pursuit of Halsey, Phyllis Smith's quirky, timid teacher Lynn Davies who always follows the rule, and sub teacher Scott Delacorte (Timberlake) who seems to have all the wrong moves with his singing and dancing but still draws all of the attention of the lady teachers.
Bad Teacher focuses little on the plight of the 7th graders, other than one kid who is head-over-heels with a popular girl who thinks she's too good for him. Instead, we are treated with various money-making schemes by Diaz to raise the up-front money for her chest enhancement appointment, a high noon feud that brews with fellow educator Amy Squirrel, and some weird passions by Timberlake, most notably an original ballad sung to sweetheart Amy or a strange passionate moment with Diaz in a hotel room during a class trip.
Many of the best gags are in the trailers, but there are a few surprises along the way that get a few laughs. We are treated to plenty of breasts and some choice curses throughout the film, some perfectly placed and some simply sprinkled in to spice up the dialogue. The ending is typical romantic comedy fare, but I did feel a little cheated by the lack of "just deserts" - almost like how Halsey gets her hands on the State Aptitude Tests!
WORTH: Matinee or Netflix