|Image: Fohnjang Ghebdinga/Fohnhouse|
Before the arrival of Bad Teacher, Cameron Diaz seemed to be stuck in a monstrous rut with no chance of clambering out of it. With the exception of the animated Shrek franchise, she’s pretty much spent the last decade prancing around in her underwear and showing off her model figure, so as you can imagine, hopes for a Cameron comeback weren’t so high.
Bad Teacher sees Diaz play the foul-mouthed, cunning tutor Elisabeth, who dreams of finding a rich man to take care of her. Enter substitute teacher Scott (Justin Timberlake), whose wealthy ties prove irresistible to Elisabeth, who subsequently sets off on a mission to snare the sexy sub, while fighting off competition from her seemingly sweet colleague Amy (Lucy Punch), and the advances of gym teacher Russell (Jason Segel).
The problem with Bad Teacher isn’t so much the actors as the script itself and lack thereof. After an opening globetrotting montage portraying the trials and tribulations of the teaching profession, we’re introduced to the shameless, crude, smoking and drinking teacher, who gives us a glimpse of what’s to come, but, unfortunately, a glimpse is all it ever really is as we’re only treated to a handful of comic moments dotted around an abundance of empty space. On paper, a running time of 90 minutes appears more than reasonable, but the lack of material makes minutes seems like a lifetime on the big screen.
Diaz isn’t actually all that bad in the film and does well with what she’s given. What starts out as a slightly forced, exaggerated act, turns into a more natural, likeably “bad” performance, reminding us of the good ol’ Diaz days.
Timberlake, in spite of The Social Network, is back on awkward form as Scott and is, unsurprisingly, and naturally, funniest when serenading Punch’s Amy on a night out, and dry-humping his real-life ex. Punch meanwhile holds her own against Diaz while Segel is the only normal being in a love square made up of over the top personalities.
The cast is more than capable, but Bad Teacher is let down by its lack of material. When it’s there it’s great, but it isn’t there often enough.