Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bad Teacher - Foul-mouthed saga

Anyone who's seen the cheeky poster of Cameron Diaz's long legs slung over a classroom desk and an 'EAT ME!' post-it stuck to her apple would want to take a second look. However it is not the case with those who have watched the film.

The perfect model teacher

Jake Kasdan's attempt to trade on the success of 'Bad Santa' has not quite worked out well. Elizabeth, a retiring seventh grade teacher is forced to return to her hated profession when her wealthy fiance discovers that she is a ruthless gold digger. Putting her embarrassing break off aside, Elizabeth sets her sights on new and rich substitute teacher, Scott. However she decides that the only way she can gain his attention is by getting gigantic breast implants.

This goal drives her to take on unethical chores like sporting skimpy attire for a seventh grade car wash to bring in customers and steal proceeds from it, compete for a salary bonus by drugging a state official and getting the answers to a test so that her class will perform better than all others. Her rival in all these incidents is fellow teacher Amy who seems to be the perfect model teacher. At the end of the day viewers realize that Elizabeth's character is not as bad as it she looks at the beginning. She is just someone looking for love in the wrong place. She may have skated through life on her good looks but now that she is reaching middle age, she still hasn't worked out that the act cannot be carried out forever.

The story has its share of funny moments but it has its pitfalls too. The humour is mostly associated with Elizabeth's and Amy's attempts to outwit each other. The minus points are mostly generated from bland characters like Scott who has noting much to do or create interest and over caricatured characters like Lynn Davies who is obsessed with food as well as bagging a guy.

The highest grade

The film contains quite a number of foul terms so it is more suitable for adults than for kids. Till half way through the middle the movie does not seem to know where it is heading. Unlike 'Bad Santa,' 'Bad Teacher' does not make us sympathize with its protagonist. We think Elizabeth deserves to be pulled up for her outrageous behaviour but she actually manages to wriggle out of a couple of tight spots while leaving her rival at the receiving end.

One such funny moment arises when the police and sniffer dog find drugs and mini liquor bottles in Elizabeth's desk which Amy has switched earlier with her desk to carry on her investigations on Elizabeth. The film has some loopholes. Elizabeth does not seem to have the credentials nor the interest towards teaching. How did Elizabeth even become a teacher? The movie doesn't know or care. Likewise it is puzzling what Russell Gettis sees in Elizabeth apart from her looks.

Apart from the two lead female characters who are pitted against each other, little or no importance is given to the rest of the characters. Justin Timberlake's nerdy Scott is merely presented to heighten the rivalry between Elizabeth and Amy. Jason Segal's gym teacher who is obliviously Elizabeth's best match, hardly pursues her rather than show a little interest and make a few comments which either flatter or annoys her. Other characters are merely added as Elizabeth's sidekicks or as bystanders. Meantime Diaz flaunts her sex appeal in a variety of mini-skirts, ankle length boots, shorts and unbuttoned blouses.

Lucy Punch brings on a few laughs as the ever smiling Amy. So does Phyllis Smith as Davies. Segal's Russell is probably the most likable character in the film because he is the most normal being in the team. However Russell is not fleshed out properly to make him seem like a hero nor given much screen space. The students in the movie barely register, except as punching bags. 'Bad Teacher' does not quite get an F. However a C is the highest grade it is most likely to garner. - Ruwini Jayawardana