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Hollywood East by Mallory

Bad Teacher, Good Actress in Cameron Diaz

There would be no Bad Teacher without the great performance of Cameron Diaz who holds this film together. Justin Timberlake in a thankless role gives a flat unlikeable performance and allows Diaz to steal every scene they have together. Her legs-forever-beauty and impeccable timing in her delivery of most often outrageous and raunchy lines makes this her film. The script by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky who wrote The Office is well written save the cardboard cutout of a character Timberlake is portraying though this is largely due to Timberlake's limited acting skills.

Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) has been left at the altar by her wealthy boyfriend and resorts to gold digging to resurrect her financial security. To her chagrin she resumes a job teaching seventh graders. Because she has been jilted, she is convinced that all her problems would be solved with a gigantic set of false tits. Problem: they cost ten grand. She sets out to earn this money by organizing a car wash which she had heard paid five grand the previous year. Wearing a skimpy outfit she heats up the scene in a suds and rinse sequence of her leggy torso sprawled on the tops of cars a la Paris Hilton, but with more earthy beauty.

Bored with teaching Halsey begins each class by showing the film Stand and Deliver while she sleeps, drinks alcohol, or studies false breasts in movie magazines. The star teacher Amy Squirrel, played with the right degree of contempt by Lucy Punch, spies on Halsey's bogus teaching methods and lectures Halsey about the hazards of running movies for lesson plans. Squirrel tries to befriend Halsey who rebuffs her advances with a statement, "I'm not into muff diving."

Their razor sharp barbs make the film fly, especially when substitute teacher Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake) meets Halsey and brags about his family's wealth. Immediately she sees him as her meal ticket for her ten grand set of false breasts. Problem: he is Mr. Right when Halsey is the bad teacher.

Amy Squirrel sees an opportunity to piss off Halsey and begins to seduce Delacorte. A series of witty forays between these two arch rivals culminates with Halsey giving Squirrel a severe case of poison ivy just as Squirrel and Delacorte are about to chaperone a field trip together. Hence Halsey replaces Squirrel and manages to seduce Delacorte who is so straight he has sex while they both are fully clothed and ejaculates inside his jeans. This scene works especially since Halsey tapes it and sends the dialogue to Squirrel over her cell phone.

When Halsey hears that ten grand is offered to the teacher whose students get the best grades, she begins to teach with fervor and plots how to get a copy of the state exams.

All the while that Halsey and Delacorte are playing stop-it-I-love-it on screen, the gym teacher Russell Gettis played with a cool, detachment and charm by Jason Segal is falling for Halsey. She ignores him, but he is relentless in his pursuit. The film's most endearing moments are the interactions between Halsey and Segal.

The film races when Halsey plots to get a copy of the state exams and seduces the guardian of these tests. Squirrel catches on to Halsey's plan after Halsey wins the award for best teacher and the ten grand. But Squirrel's attempt to smear Halsey and make her return the ten grand backfires.

You will rejoice in Halsey's acquittal and despite Timberlake's flat performance, rejoice that you have seen this film. This does not have the cohesive magical wit of Terry Zwigoff's Bad Santa, but Jake Kasdan's Bad Teacher holds its own.

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