There was once a time when the typical role for Cameron Diaz was to be the sexy love interest for your male protagonist, and she was pretty damn effective in that role. Think ‘There’s Something About Mary’. I bet you’re picturing Cameron Diaz with semen in her hair, right? Grow up, fast forward 13 years and you get the badass, ruthless, hilarious Cameron Diaz, still sexy, but now the star of the show in ‘Bad Teacher’. Don’t get me wrong, I saw the cast and read the story synopsis and assumed we had another run of the mill, easy watch comedy to fill the DVD bargain baskets. Thankfully, I could not have been more wrong.
Jake Kasdan directs this fantastic, laugh out loud comedy about the miserable, rogue teacher who is forced to, at least try, and educate the youth at James Adams Middle School. Cameron Diaz leads as the cruel and cynical Miss Halsey, who after being dumped by her fiancée, is on the prowl for a rich, new husband. Enter, Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake), who is rich, attractive and popular. Underneath this materialistic façade however, lies an undeniably lame, weak and painfully ‘nice’ loser. Of course, gold digger Halsey can deal with that, and aims to snare her new man to fund a breast enhancement. Failing that, Miss Halsey goes to desperate lengths; from supervising a raunchy car wash for her students’ perverted fathers, to stealing test papers for her class, in order to win the cash incentive for topping the exam results list. In her pursuit of Scott and teaching ‘success’, Miss Halsey constantly battles with the detestable goody-goody Miss Squirrel (Lucy Punch), and manages to ignore the advances of the likeable gym teacher, Mr Gettis (Jason Segel).
With a movie so full of capers, antics, rebellion and fun, it is easy to ignore the elements which contribute to making this such an enjoyable and hilarious film. Cameron Diaz, despite her catalogue of average roles in average movies, is faultless in ‘Bad Teacher’. She portrays perfectly the bad guy I want to love, the anti-hero I shouldn’t be rooting for. Which leads me nicely onto Lucy Punch, who is so righteous and moral as Miss Squirrel that she is easy to dislike. Combine this with her crazy, obsessive edge and you can’t help but question who the real ‘villain’ is. Jason Segel is a man who divides my opinion massively. I can’t bring myself to watch ‘How I Met Your Mother’, but he is great in ‘I Love You, Man’. As Mr Gettis here, Segel excels himself, making me laugh at just about everything he says whilst maintaining a persistent, odd sort of charm. Last but not least, Justin Timberlake is superb as the geeky, cringe worthy sycophant, Scott Delacorte.
‘Bad Teacher’ is a truly hilarious film that I could, and indeed have watched, many times. Admittedly, it IS an easy watch comedy, but there is nothing wrong with that when the experience is so enjoyable. Although not quite up there with the truly great, modern comedies such as ‘Anchorman’, ‘Superbad’ and ‘The Hangover’, ‘Bad Teacher’ certainly isn’t far behind. I can’t praise enough, the writers, director and actors, the whole ensemble, who helped create this comedy which is highly regarded and recommended on my behalf.
DIRECTOR: JAKE KASDAN
STARRING: CAMERON DIAZ, JASON SEGEL, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, LUCY PUNCH