Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Bad Teacher

Directed by: Jake Kasdan

Produced by: Jimmy Miller
David Householter

Written by: Lee Eisenberg
Gene Stupnitsky

Starring: Cameron Diaz
Lucy Punch
Justin Timberlake
Jason Segel

Music by: Michael Andrews

Cinematography by: Alar Kivilo

Editing by: Tara Timpone

Studio: Mosaic

Distributed by: Colombia Pictures

Release date(s): June 17, 2011 (United Kingdom)
June 24, 2011 (United States)

Running time: 92 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Budget: $20 million

Gross revenue (as of publication): $91, 307, 505

Once again, I have disappeared off the radar and stopped posting for near enough two weeks. However, this time I would like to think that I had a valid enough excuse. This annoys me because I had seen a ton of movies and now have to rush through them all (Kung Fu Panda 2 and Bridesmaids coming soon). Nevertheless, I have been sick with a bad flu/fever which for the first few days put me in what was more-or-less a state of delirium and for the week after gave me a bad stomach bug which has caused me to lose eight pounds of weight. I have not weighed under eleven stone for about four years, so this was a temporary health concern, I am ok, but I have had to pretty much schedule my timetable around it. Unfortunately, no reviewing or writing of any sort was factored in, and I have been resting up. Now, temporary setbacks aside, the show will go on.

The film in front of the panel today is Bad Teacher. By no means a particularly original concept, although judging from the film's tone they have clearly seen Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans, as the influence extends beyond the title and concept. Cameron Diaz plays Elizabeth Halsey, who after her rich fiance dumps her, is forced to continue her job as a teacher. After being attracted at the possibility of breast enlargement surgery (priced at $10,000), she begins to try to win over wealthy substitute teacher Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake). However, he seems more taken with the kind and dedicated, if slightly eccentric Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), which along with gym teacher Russell Gettis' (Jason Segel) teasing advances, compounds Elizabeth's stress, which she takes out on her pupil's.

As mentioned, it is not exactly an original role, but Cameron Diaz clearly relishes the part. She is a charming comedic actor, and this is a role that I feel only a woman of her talents could have pulled off. Instead of coming across as attempting to act bad, she just does, and it all seems to be a natural process for her. The part is nuts-and-bolts, but Diaz does a great job of it, and is the beacon of the film's comedic potential. Also in the acting department, in a role that could have ended being the film's worst and all-round filler, Jason Segel is really good as Russel Gettis, the gym teacher who is constantly Elizabeth's case. He is a very funny man who in this part does not fail to be both funny and creepy. However, he is a sympathetic character with whom the audience can empathise, and Segel plays this aspects of the character well. Despite the film not having particularly well-written characters or a strong story/structure, there are a number of funny gags. Elizabeth's Halsey's constant dismissal of certain characters challenges public politeness, which is usually pretty humorous. Also, I do rather like the fact that instead a false pretence of being 'Bad' or a kind of faux-hip version of being bad, the film actually goes for an R-rating and has a proper consistency and appropriate level of badness. Halsey smokes pot, is rude and crass to her fellow faculty members, and is ruthless in the pursuit of her ultimately selfish goal in getting her boob job. Having a boob job in itself as a the prime motivator for a character is a 'Bad' move, and feels appropriate for the movie.

That said, Bad Teacher is by no means a flawless movie. As I have mentioned already, the script's character's are poorly written. They are all cardboard cutouts, each with the eccentricities and fetishes so that one can put a label on them and say "these are fully-rounded character's" when they aren't really. Also, in terms of structure, the plot is very nuts-and-bolts. We've seen it all before, and like all good chess-masters, we can predict the move of our opponent before they have even made it. One must automatically approach a film as an enemy, for it is the film's task to spin an illusion before us and convince us that it is our friend. Ultimately, Bad Teacher is not convincing enough to make me believe it is my friend, for it's frilly exterior does not disguise what I see as a rotten core. Furthermore, the film is wrapped up and sugar-coated in a pop-culture kind of contemporary feel of trying too much to be a movie of it's time that it occasionally betray's it's 'Badness,' turning out as more a member-of-the-pack than a truly 'Bad' original.

That said, with all it's problems, particularly with certain aspects of the script and it's pop-culture ridden feeling of ubiquitousness, Bad Teacher is not a bad film. It's not a particularly good movie by any means, but nowhere near the monstrosity a grumpy film critic such as I would lead myself to believe. I laughed a number of times during the course of the film, which actually does make a pretty ballsy attempt at sticking with it's guns as an R-rated comedy, and boasting some pretty good performances from Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 5.2/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Excitable (very busy, things to do, time too short, time my enemy)

P.S. Weird to think that the slightly overbearing music was done by Michael Andrews, whose very different score for Donnie Darko was one of the greatest in movie history

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