Anyone who’s seen the cheeky poster (Cameron Diaz’s long legs slung over a classroom desk, an ‘EAT ME!’ Post-it stuck to her apple) or watched the snappy, saucy trailer will no doubt want to hang out with the titular teach: foul-mouthed, hungover, sexed-up and obsessed with buying some new norks to up her chances of sinking those manicured talons into some rich schmuck.
Twenty minutes in, you’ll begin to feel like you’re in detention. Lines that work both on paper and in the trailer are surrounded by too much space, allowing tumbleweeds to roll, and Diaz’s creation emerges as a cruel, shallow, charisma-free, detestable person – or, put bluntly, a bitch.
Unlike Billy Bob Thornton’s bad Santa, whose crass comes with sass, Diaz’s tutor offers a torrent of repellent, fish-faced whinging, while her explosive expletives lack the smarts to sting.
Just as she’s stuck teaching junior high after her sugar daddy dumps her, we’re stuck watching a talented comedienne drop the ball, our only recourse to cringe and twiddle thumbs and cringe some more as she sticks on films every lesson, seduces an idiotic examiner to pilfer the SATs paper and ridicules the advances of PE teacher Jason Segel in favour of ensnaring Justin Timberlake’s supply teacher: pious, drippy and heir to a fortune.
Still, at least Timberlake and Segel add, respectively, laughs and charm, the former bagging the film’s funniest, crudest scene when he dry-humps real-life ex Diaz (the camera lingering first on his puckered face and then on the wet patch seeping through his jeans), the latter’s loose and easy playing making Diaz seem all the more brittle.
With a bag full of basketballs and the shadow of a smile, Segel cajoles more mirth from “Hold my ball sack” than Diaz wrings from 90 minutes of putdowns, swearing and slutty innuendos.
Bad teacher? Fucking A.
Freaks And Geeks and Zero Effect seem a long time ago as director Jake Kasdan offers up a film simultaneously loose and strained, full of underlined punchlines. Proof that comedy really is in the. Timing.