Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) is the type of teacher you really wouldn’t want teaching your kids. Conversely, she’s the type of teacher every teenager (particularly the boys) would love to have. She’s a brash, brazen gold-digger who thinks that teaching is a dead-end job that she can’t wait to get away from, and spends far too much time high or drunk. On the day she’s about to leave and marry Mark, a ridiculously rich man, she discovers that she is about to be dumped, left without her designer goods and with little choice but to return, shamefully, to work in the school.
Not looking forward to life as a seventh grade teacher, she embraces her debauched side, drinking and taking drugs around and in the school. Wanting to escape her life of rental apartments and no money, she starts hunting for a new man, though that’s not as easy as it seems on her teacher’s salary. Her only salvation, she decides, would be breast implants, but again, a lack of money is bound to get in the way of this life fulfilling ambition.
Surrounded by students she hates and teachers she doesn’t particularly like either, it’s the arrival of new substitute teacher Scott (Justin Timberlake) that gets her heart racing; he’s suave, sophisticated, single and from a moneyed background. He’s perfect for Elizabeth, despite the attention he’s getting from her colleague, Amy (Lucy Punch).
Elizabeth suddenly discovers a way to raise the money to get her much needed breast implants, though it will involve defrauding the school. Throwing herself into her new responsibilities, she partakes in the most inappropriate car wash you’re likely to see in a 15-certificate film. As she realises how easy it will be to make money, she latches onto every opportunity she can – selling lost possessions, cashing in empty drinks cans, and offering her services as a teacher for cash.
All this money grabbing soon raises Amy’s suspicions, especially as she has now started dating Scott and doesn’t want anything to ruin her chances with her new beau. She’s intent on bringing Elizabeth’s world crashing down around her, revealing her various indiscretions to the school authorities and drumming this bad teacher out of the profession once and for all.
Cameron Diaz manages to carry the film in spite of an average script. Whether boozy and high or over-working her students, she manages to pull off a character that should be vile, and makes her rather charming. She’s at her best when she’s being ruthless and calculating, particularly during the last few minutes of the film.
Timberlake succeeds in his role as a young, substitute teacher who is just the right side of being geeky and uncool, without being dislikeable. He gets a chance to sing, but the result is cheesy and cringe-worthy.
Segel doesn’t stray too far from type, with his sarcastic and self-deprecating wit. Lucy Punch, on the other hand, is fantastic as Amy, full of neuroses and bitterness, while outwardly exuding sweetness and light. Phyllis Smith puts in an wonderful performance with very little screen time as Elizabeth’s confidante, the dowdy Lynn.
The School’s Out Edition contains a “new rude cut – not seen in cinemas”. The script isn’t so much rude as disappointingly unfunny. It’s uneven and poorly paced, with scenes that seem to have been written by someone who thinks a few swear words, drugs and sex talk are funny without actually knowing what they’re doing. With a lack of laughs and the flimsiest of stories, where thin threads are woven together unsatisfactorily, it’s a difficult film to like, despite some decent performances.
In the pantheon of gross-out comedies, there are films like Animal House and American Pie. Outside, far in the distance, there’s Bad Teacher.
On the disc, there’s a collection of silly outtakes, where the characters say the word ‘boner’ over and over. Segel talks about being in the TV series The Bachelor, Amy gets an extended scene where she’s told off for talking, and Russell gets an extended rejection. These are all puerile and pointless.
Six deleted scenes offer five-and-a-half minutes of extra footage that manage to annoy more than entertain. Elizabeth spends more time at a breast clinic, Amy talks to a student with a boner, Scott carries out an English lesson, the students arrive in Springfield and Elizabeth embarks on her first session as a counsellor. One thing the deleted scenes offer is more time for Garrett and Elizabeth’s relationship, as he tries to win over the girl of his dreams.
Way Behind The Scenes With Jason And Justin features a short mock-interview with Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake. Segel plays an overbearing and annoying actor, while Justin plays the part of the uncomfortable star who’s trying to convince Segel he’s a serious actor. They spend time taking pot shots at each other’s careers, share barbed witticisms and brag about their own achievements. It’s not a terrible feature, but it does seem to outstay its welcome.
Raising More Than Funds is the only real featurette on the DVD, focusing on the car wash scene. The cast and crew talk about its production, how hot Cameron Diaz is, and how the scene was filmed.
With this being an extended version of the film, it would have been nice to have the opportunity to play the theatrical cut of the film, but that doesn’t appear to be an option on the DVD release.
Bad Teacher is a rare thing: a wasted potential of a film and extras. It’s got a cast that pull off good performances, saving the film from a one star rating, and a premise that could have made an inappropriately entertaining offering, but Bad Teacher fails on too many levels.
Unfortunately, from the start of the film to the last of the extras, this is one hugely disappointing, missed opportunity.
You can rent or buy Bad Teacher at Blockbuster.co.uk.