This one’s about a week late, but….well, what’re ya gonna do? Sometimes, we don’t get to things as quickly as we’d like to here at Comedy Examiner HQ, and we’re sure that– somehow– you’re able to go about your lives without feeling too deprived. And, if you’re unable to deal with a review for a middle-of-the-road Cameron Diaz comedy that’s about a week late, well, you have issues that need to be addressed with a counselor, maybe someone who can prescribe some sort of medication. With all of that said, let’s move on to our Bad Teacher review, located below. Read on, my gentle Examiner readers…
We’re just now getting around to reviewing last week’s Bad Teacher, and I suspect that most of the people that were interested in seeing the movie have already done so. But maybe there’s a few more of you out there who’ve been on the fence about the movie, a few of you that are doing your damndest to avoid seeing Transformers 3 and are strongly considering Bad Teacher as an alternative. Like you, we still haven’t seen Transformers 3 here at Comedy Examiner HQ, but now that we’ve seen Bad Teacher, we’re willing to bet that it’ll be a better use of your $10. Sorry, Michael Bay.
This isn’t to say that Bad Teacher‘s a groundbreaking, hilarious comedy (as Bridesmaids was earlier this summer), or that it’s a real gut-buster of a movie (Let me know if you think of a comedy released in 2011 that I can use as an example here). It’s very middle-of-the-road, very “just OK”, very “a perfectly reasonable way to spend about 90 minutes in a theater”. While it evoked almost no response from this viewer beyond a few chuckles, I was never bored watching it, and even if it is slight, it’s far from terrible.
That’s more than I can say for most of the films I’ve seen this summer, and that– I think– is the best thing Bad Teacher has going for it: the fact that it doesn’t make you want to punch a baby square in the mouth (like, say, Super 8 might have)(note: we dug Super 8, but we’re aware that many of you didn’t). Bad Teacher sticks out as one of the better things I’ve seen this summer, but I might not have said that on any other year.
Now that we’ve spent three paragraphs selling you on the idea of Bad Teacher‘s slightly-above-averageness, let’s get into what we did and didn’t love about the film. This won’t take but a minute.
In the “Loved” column, there’s the following: Seeing Cameron Diaz having fun onscreen again (she’s clearly loving this role) was a blast, and it reminded me why so many people fell at her feet in the first place. I still don’t think she’s an amazing actress, but I’d definitely be open to seeing her in more roles like this one in the future. Secondly, Phyllis-Smith-from-The–Office does great, great work here– she might be the movie’s MVP, besting Timberlake and Jason Segal– even though she’s playing the same character she plays on that NBC sitcom. She was perfect for the role, and I’d be surprised if it hadn’t been written with her in mind.
Also “Loved”: Justin Timberlake, proving– yet again– that he’s got a great screen presence. Despite the fact that we all had a good bit of fun mocking his whiteboy cornrows in the late 90’s (you Tweeners might not know about this, but Timberlake used to rock a boy-band like a boss), I’ve found myself unable to continue ragging on the guy: he’s simply fun to watch, and he’s clearly willing to embarrass himself for the sake of a good laugh. On the basis of his performance here and in last year’s The Social Network, I am firmly behind the idea of Timberlake being featured in more movies. There’s something I never thought I’d say back in 1999.
Now, as for the “Didn’t Love” column: Jason Segal– here playing the runner-up potential-boyfriend for Diaz’ character (if you’ve seen the trailers, you probably know how it all plays out)–looked bloated and bored throughout, to a degree that seemed perilously close to “phoning it in”. Segal’s a warm, engaging performer (see also: I Love You, Man and Forgetting Sarah Marshall), but he’s also capable of half-assing it (see also, but not really: Gulliver’s Travels). This one felt a little too much like the latter.
Also “Didn’t Love”: The script– from Office writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg– felt very, very slight. There’s nothing here that’s surprising, no “big moments” that aren’t already featured in the trailer. One might argue on behalf of the “love scene” between Diaz and Timberlake as a “surprise”, but I’d respectfully disagree. Timberlake’s entire character, in fact, felt like he needed…more. A dark secret, perhaps, or some sort of shocking end for his storyline. As it stands, the characters enter, establish themselves, and wrap things up without ever doing anything that felt unexpected, and– as a result– the whole thing feels a little flat after the fact. I’m having a hard time remembering certain things about the movie and I just saw it: that’s a sign that the script needed another polish or two before landing in front of the cameras.
All of that said, don’t let me dissuade you from seeing Bad Teacher. It’s funny– just not super-funny– and it’s a fair amount of fun to watch. It doesn’t have the gleeful absurdity of Your Highness (that’s the 2011 comedy I should’ve name-dropped up there at the top) or the heart-and-soul of Bridesmaids, but you won’t leave the theater feeling like you burned $10. In a summer like this, that’s high praise, indeed.
My grade? B+
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