As I laughed/cringed my way through “BAD TEACHER,” I could not help but think of another movie with “BAD (NOUN)” as a title. Of course, I’m talking about “BAD SANTA” which served as a black comedy benchmark of my early youth and, from what it seems like, a black comedy benchmark for the people behind this delightfully un-PC number, which comes hot on the heels of winning “BRIDESMAIDS” in what I am going to start calling “the summer chick flicks got their balls back.”
The story (as expected) is simple: Cameron Diaz stars as Elizabeth, a teacher who really doesn’t want to be one. In fact, she doesn’t really know what she wants aside from a rich man to take care of her and her substance/expensive footwear abuse habits. The start of the movie sees her lose her initial meal ticket (aka her fiancee) and return to JAMS (John Adams Middle School) for another year of cruising by “doing the bare minimum.” JAMS is staffed entirely with comic geniuses (from Phyllis Smith to John Michael Higgins), and soon Justin Timberlake (a nerdy (but super-hot) heir to a wristwatch empire) join the team.
Diaz decides she needs new boobs in order to get her man and what follows is all the things she is willing to do in order to get those boobs she needs (“They’re so expensive. Per boob”). This includes: lying, cheating, stealing, facing off with Amy Squirrel the other hot (but sweet) teacher on Timberlake’s trail (Squirrel is played with plucky, on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown aplomb by the lovely Lucy Punch who we last saw in “Dinner for Schmucks” and “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” and who deserves to be a star, and a big one at that), and ignoring Russell, the gym teacher (Jason Segal, in pitch perfect laconic mode) who really IS THE ONE (for her, for the time being at least).
It is obvious that everyone in the movie is having a great time (being BAD), and that goes especially for Diaz who is one of the more capable comedic actresses to trot out of Hollywood in the last 20 odd years and who is rarely used to her fullest (hot but hilarious) potential. The last time I saw her attempt it was in another gross-out chick flick “The Sweetest Thing” (which (confession-ed) I own on DVD). So ten years and numerous “HOLIDAY” and “WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS”es later, when given a chance to throw balls at people’s faces, trot around a car wash and/or get dry humped by her ex boyfriend, she dives right in, no hold barred and the movie thrives on both her gameness and her inherent likability (which makes you not look away almost ever, even when you want to)
Obviously though, this is not a perfect film. I am not even sure it is a good film but at a trim hour and a half of thoroughly entertaining hi jinx, if being bad is this much fun, then I don’t need good right now. (oh, and I can totally see this getting HUGE on DVD, HUGE).