Bad Teacher has a 45% on Rotten Tomatoes. 28% if you only look at top critics. Metacritic has it at 47/100. IMDB user score is 6.2/10. Metacritic user score is 7.1.
People like it. I loved it. Critics hate it. Why?
Director: Jake Kasdan
a bad teacher: Cameron Diaz
sarcastic gym teacher: Jason Segal
goody goody good guy: Justin Timberlake
Faces you'll probably know: John Michael Higgins, Phyllis Smith
Almost unrecognizable: Eric Stonestreet
Cameo: Molly Shannon
Who is really hot but you wouldn't know it from this movie: Lucy Punch http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0700577/weeblylink_new_window
The problem with critics is they don't get it. They keep saying the movie doesn't go dark enough. That it's too tame. That Bad Santa did it better. Stupid. You can't compare the two just because of similar titles.
Bad Santa was a comedy. The humor was crude in a way Bad Teacher. Santa is a movie that wants to make you laugh. The interactions are designed to entertain. I mean, there's a triple-dose of nut shots in a 5 sec span.
Dana Stevens, from Slate wrote this: "If you're looking for a funny comedy about a cynical, hard-partying school teacher transformed by his students into a paragon of pedagogical awesomeness, skip Bad Teacher and go rent School of Rock instead."
Do you know how ignorant that comment is? If you read her entire review, it's worse. Dana's problem is that she goes into the movie with plot expectations. She believes Teacher fails because it was SUPPOSED TO redeem Diaz (the same way Jack Black becomes "a paragon of pedagogical awesomeness"), that the students should have been developed as characters, that Diaz wasn't as loveable as Billy Bob Thorton in Santa.
Here's what no one is saying: Bad Teacher is a satire.
On one-hand, it's disemboweling teachers and students. To make this work, BT utilizes stereotypes and extremes. Dana Stevens complains the students are under-developed. That's on purpose. Almost every "school" movie lavishes attention on the students. We're shown how intelligent and awesome and cool the students are, how real they are (Dead Poets Society, Freedom Writers, Fast Times, etc. etc. etc. etc.--they all focus on the students). In BT, Lucy Punch and Justin Timberlake (both characters embodying/mocking teachers that care to an insane degree) say several times how important the children are, and Diaz rolls her eyes. That's the film rolling it's eyes at other school movies.
On the other hand, BT ABSOLUTELY SHREDS modern society. Ebert said (after comparing BT to BS): "Elizabeth seems bad merely as a greedy lifestyle choice." Diaz's character isn't a mean person. She just doesn't care to play the game. And maybe that's why no one understands this film, because at no point is there a speech where Diaz cries out that society is a life-size, man-made board game, and people spend their entire lives following the rules, trying not to step on toes, being proper and polite and brain-washed. Diaz isn't a jerk, she's a cynic. Diaz views the world as a passionless place where people do what they do because they believe they should. Every interaction, from marriage, to work, to friendships, is a superficial activity. Diaz hates the game. But she knows she can't change other people. So all she wants is to live comfortably: to marry rich and relax.
We see she knows how to play. Timberlake is rich. And when he's around, Diaz turns on the charm. She wants fake tits--an artificial enhancement--because she knows it will help her "win". And her drive to acquire these mega boobs is impressive; it's the film's entire plot.
Diaz isn't greedy as a lifestyle choice. She's calculating, unhappy, and motivated. The film, like Diaz, is skirting the conventional rules (but sometimes playing along), and critics can't comprehend that.
Roeper and Stevens talk about how unsatisfying Diaz's "redemption" is. It's a quiet moment. It's not "unbelievable" (Roeper) or "unearned" (Stevens).
Unbelievable: throughout the movie Diaz's attraction to Segal grows. As Diaz is laying down some hard truths to the well-meaning, weird, poetic kid (that reminds me too much of me) who just proclaimed his love for the popular girl in front of his class and Abraham Lincoln, Diaz starts to understand the influences in her own life. Is it unbelievable that a sad woman who has been striving for what she thinks will make her less sad (silicon breasts = loaded husband = contentment) takes a different path to happiness when one is suddenly revealed?
Unearned: Diaz EARNS the money for the tata implants. Instead, she chooses love. Segal actually likes Diaz. Both are raunchy and see the falsehood in the characters of others (like Timberlake) and laugh at the phoniness. It takes courage for a cynic to believe in someone/something. And Segal earned Diaz's trust.
No one earns redemption. You either seize the opportunity when it's presented to you (when you can finally see it) or you don't. Diaz did.
Ebert's conclusion: "And how, oh, how, can we possibly understand the eventual development between Elizabeth and Russell the gym teacher? You know what that feels like? It feels like they called Diaz and Jason Segal in for one additional day of shooting to provide a preposterous happy ending. Jolly music keeps elbowing its way onto the soundtrack in an unconvincing attempt to cue us that we've seen a good comedy."
I repeat: Bad Teacher is not a comedy. It's a satire.
If you can't see that, it's because you're the one being scoffed at.
Did I Like It:
Yes. I laughed pretty good a few times. But the movie never made me guffaw. It wasn't like watching Wedding Crashers. But I enjoyed its satire. I'd watch it again, no problem.
% Character / % Actor's personality or previous roles
Punch: 100/0 (I think I'm in love with real-life her)
Phyllis Smith: 50/50
John Michael Higgins: 30/70
Kasdan: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Diaz: Gangs of New York; The Mask; Any Given Sunday; Shrek
Segel: Forgetting Sarah Marshall; I Love You, Man
Timberlake: The Social Network