Jake Kasdan, son of Hollywood heavyweight Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill), burst onto the scene with Zero Effect, a twisted little detective farce that screamed of independence from mainstream thinking and should have paved the way for a satisfying hand-to-mouth career outside the studio system. But bad choices, like the meandering college road-trip Orange County and the misguided movie musical parody Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story have led him into the fold. And here, instead of branching off into Bad Santa territory, his Bad Teacher wastes the comedic and physical charms of Cameron Diaz in a raunchy tale of redemption.
Elizabeth Halsey (Diaz) gold-digs her way out of marriage and right back into her dead-end job as a middle-school teacher, but she gets back into the game when a silver-spoon substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake) wanders into the building, setting off a competition with a fellow teacher (Lucy Punch) for not only the sub’s affections but also a chance to earn some extra cash (to pay for breast enhancement surgery) and the honor of being the teacher whose students earn the highest scores on a standardized test.
Yes, she drinks too much, smokes weed, curses like a fleet of sailors and an elite squad of Navy Seals and only cares about No. 1, but she’s got a heart in that bad body, right? No, she’s not bad, and the script (along with Kasdan’s direction) fails to truly draw her or anyone else that way. Grade: D-plus
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