I’d rather take a class taught by the ball.

Theatrical Release Date: 6/24/2011
Director: Jake Kasdan
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Lucy Punch, Jason Segel, Justin Timberlake, Phyllis Smith, John Michael Higgins
Rated: R for sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use.
Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes


Hi kids, wanna hear a joke?

It’s no secret that Cameron Diaz is at the top of my ‘annoying actresses’ list. I’ve cursed “The Mask” on numerous occasions for both being a bad film, and introducing Diaz to the mainstream. Her one-trick acting style has never won me over and I’d consider flying a “Mission Accomplished” banner above sports stadiums nationwide if she’d stop acting altogether (and take Shia LaBeouf with her).

With my bias completely transparent, let’s get on to Diaz’ latest film, “Bad Teacher”. The story concerns a lazy and uninspired teacher (Diaz), with aspirations of finding a wealthy man to take care of her, whose loins are set on fire by substitute teacher Justin Timberlake (it probably happens more often than we hear about). Desperate to gain his affections, she sets out to become a model teacher and undergoes a personal transformation along the way.

HAHAHAHA, I wrote that plot synopsis from the trailer and it was DEAD ON. Why did I have to sit through the entire thing, then? (Oh yeah, because it’s a film critic thing.)

Look, there are some good jokes now and then. The dodgeball scene dominating the trailers still retains its humor on-screen but keep in mind that I’m also one of the largest “Jackass” fans around; I consider people hurting themselves for my amusement one of the great joys in life. However, I don’t consider any of the comedy to be helped out by Diaz’ performance. Anyone with a pulse could make shabby, not politically correct treatment of students funny – the laughs are in the writing and not the performer.

As for the rest of the cast, it plays out as one would expect. Timberlake does a decent job but his charisma seems to translate just about anywhere right now. Segel is well chosen as the gumpy gym teacher looking for Diaz’ love but seeing his mug just makes me anxiously hopeful of the upcoming Muppet movie. And it’s nice to see Lucy Punch get such a big role in an American film, after admiring her comedic talents in British productions like “Hot Fuzz” or as a smaller supporting character (and one of the few bright spots) in this year’s dreadful “Take Me Home Tonight“.

Obviously, an affinity for Diaz will go a long way towards liking “Bad Teacher” but even with my outspoken issues about her, the overall production does what it needs to and there are enough laughs to warrant giving the film a 3 out of 5. It’s not an instant classic and I don’t foresee quoting anything from the script in the future but with its brisk 92 minute runtime and good supporting performances, you can do a lot worse when picking movies this summer (*cough* “Green Lantern“).

3 out of 5