Helena Bonham Carter shagged herself silly as a supportgroup junkie. Henry Fonda shot a kid. Cameron Diaz rocks designer clobber and soaps a car...
Teasing audiences with a counter-casting conceit in its nod to Bad Santa and tit-job storyline, Jake Kasdan’s comedy cheats, coasting on goodwill towards Diaz when it should’ve nuked her image.
Did it have a choice? Maybe not. Proof that what’s good for the poster isn’t always good for the picture, casting Diaz as pot-puffing, gold-digging teacher Elizabeth Halsey shows there’s something about Mary that’s too perky to wash as wild or wasted. So perhaps nudging the film away from outrage towards a feelgood finale was the only plausible option.
Which wouldn’t be so bad if Bad Teacher was witty or winning. Sure, Jason Segel is likeable as a stoner gym teacher. But using toxic do-gooder teacher Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch) as a ploy to steer us onto Halsey’s side flops because Diaz is neither endearingly badass nor Mary-style sweet enough, giving us no one to root for, to love or hate.
Laughs-wise, John Michael Higgins dishes drollery as a dolphin-hugging principal and Justin Timberlake geeks out as the sexy-stupid target of various lady lusts. But most gags here are timid and ill-timed, serving as the comic equivalent of JT’s dry-hump scene and leaving you with a film that isn’t filthy, funny or offbeat enough to make the cult-com grade.
The cast corpsing over rude words on the outtakes is about the measure of this under-achiever.
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