I’ve had a string of bad luck with the last few movies I’ve seen, so I went in to Bad Teacher expecting a) not much and b) even less than that and I was surprised by how entertaining it actually was, despite its paper-thin plot. Sure, it’s not the smartest or slickest comedy you’re ever likely to see or have seen (I hope for your sake anyway) but it has some very funny moments.
Bad Teacher does what a lot of comedies fail at doing – being consistently funny. It’s the off-beat, oddball characters like Ms Squirrell (Lucy Punch) that really pack the comedy punches. However, it never hits the oddball comedic notes of, say, Airplane!. But that’s incredibly difficult to do, so that sentence is probably moot.
Diaz does well as the morally corrupt teacher desperate for a new pair of cans, and the rest of the cast provide very strong performances. Lucy Punch and Jason Segel provide most of the laugh-out-loud comedy. Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet was a welcome surprise and brings charm, and a very funny scene, to his role as Diaz’s roommate. Meanwhile, JT is unbelievably cringey as the sexy new substitute teacher, this comes as no surprise having proved his comedy chops time and time again with SNL and The Lonely Island.
Probably the best thing about this movie is the fact that none of the characters goes through any real personal change, valiantly triumphing in the fight of good versus evil emerging as better people, forever fighting the good fight. No, they’re all still the shitty people they were at the beginning.
The film rests considerably on Diaz’s shoulders, with other characters sidelined in her quest for cuter hooters. There’s a lot of scope for more nastiness in a school setting that the film never really explores. So despite it being morally vacant, it’s not quite morally vacant enough. And that is its main problem, it fails at going the whole hog. The script could have done with a bit of tightening here and there, but with universally strong performances and some fabulously cringey scenes (one in particular comes to mind) there’s a good movie in there. If you go in with friends and really low expectations, you’ll come out pleasantly surprised and tickled.