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Bad Teacher (2011)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/18/2011

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/18/2011

In my recent review for Horrible Bosses, I wrote about how Hollywood has really embraced comedies which have two specific features -- they offers familiar stars and the contain shocking, gross-out humor. As previously discussed, this genre isn't necessarily a bad thing, as proven by the modern blueprint for this kind of movie, There's Something About Mary. But, the fact remains that making this kind of movie requires a certain amount of tact and skill -- one can't simply hurl obscenities at the audience. So, if one were going to make a film like this, who better to get than Mary herself, Cameron Diaz? Will that be enough to make Bad Teacher successful?

Diaz stars in Bad Teacher as Elizabeth Halsey, a middle-school teacher who has resigned from her job at James Adams Middle School, as she is set to marry a rich man (Nat Faxon). However, the wedding is called off and Elizabeth is forced to return to her job. She's only their in body though, as she barely talks to her students and shows movies everyday. Clearly, her spirit has been crushed. This draws the ire of her colleague, Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), an overzealous teacher who loves using cute saying with her students. The one thing which does get Elizabeth's attention is substitute teacher Russell Gettis (Justin Timberlake), who just happens to be heir to a watch company fortune. Elizabeth decides that she will get a breast enlargement and win Russell's heart. Thus, she becomes involved in any school activity from which she can take money. But, when Elizabeth learns that successful teachers receive a bonus, she considers turning her life around.

If the title Bad Teacher conjures up memories of Bad Santa, then don't be surprised, as the two movies are very similar. Both movies feature vulgar, alcoholic characters who work in jobs which place them in close proximity with children. Both movies push the envelope with language and scatological references. In both films, holier than thou characters attempt to foil the schemes of the main character. I was honestly surprised by how much the two movies paralleled each other at times. However, that's where the similarities end.

Whereas Bad Santa was a truly jolting, in-your-face comedy, Bad Teacher is a truly lazy and amateurish affair, which is surprising given those involved with it. For starters, the movie assumes that we are going to find Cameron Diaz saying offensive things, typically within earshot of children, to be hilarious. Well, it isn't. Again, this type of comedy takes a very subtle approach and we simply don't get that here. The story dwells too much on Elizabeth's obsession with getting a breast enhancement. Is that funny? The Amy Squirrel (really?) character is shoved in our faces far too often, but she just does the same thing over and over. The story is incredibly predictable, and there was only one moment which bordered on being clever. If you can't see the end coming, then you've apparently never seen a movie before. And the coda is not only preposterous, it will be truly offensive to those in the helping professions.

The bottom line is that Bad Teacher doesn't rise anywhere near the level of talent involved. Although I hate no respect for his music, Justin Timberlake has proven time and time again that he can be very funny, but he's never given the chance to do so here, as he simply plays Russell as a goober. Jason Segel has what can only be called an extended cameo in the movie, as he wanders in every now and then. Which brings us to how oddly edited this movie is. Director Jake Kasdan has made several movies (with one of them, Orange County, being good), but this looks like a first-time production. There is no narrative flow between the scenes and great chunks of information are missing. Was Elizabeth a good teacher before she got dumped? Were the allegations against her true? If so, how did the students react? None of this information shows up in the Deleted Scenes, and the whole thing feels like something which was simply stitched together in an effort to create a feature-length film.

Bad Teacher also wastes the talents of Phyllis from The Office on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 34 Mbps. The image is fairly sharp and clear, showing no defects from the source material. However, there is a fine sheen of grain on the image. Was that intentional, as a way of giving the movie a seedy look? The colors look very good, most notably reds, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is acceptable, but the image can be soft at times. Depth is good as well, but we've seen better. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The in-film music provides some prominent subwoofer effects. Stereo effects are good, most notably during the school hallway scenes. These same scenes, along with the school dance scene, offers adequate surround sound effects.

The Bad Teacher Blu-ray Disc contains an assortment of extras. "JAMS Yearbook - Hidden Moments" is an interactive feature which highlights the activities and quotes of the main characters, yearbook style. The Disc contains six DELETED SCENES which run about six minutes. These are all incidental moments which don't offer much, but it's always nice to hear the words "boner patrol" being used. These are followed by a 5-minute GAG REEL and a 4-minute reel of OUTTAKES, which aren't all that different from the GAG REEL, save for the fact that we get to see the same shot being blown over and over. "Way Behind the Scenes with Jason and Justin" (6 minutes) is an awkward interview between Timberlake and Segel. Not unlike the movie, this should be funny, but it isn't. "Raising More than Funds" (4 minutes) takes a closer look at the making of the car wash scene. "A Very Odd Blacksmith Story" (2 minutes) is a bizarre piece with writer Lee Eisenberg blowing his cameo in the movie out of proportion. In "Swimming with the Dolphins" (4 minutes) John Michael Higgins discusses the eccentricities of his character. "Good Teacher" (4 minutes) has the cast and crew discussing the attributes of a good teacher.

Review Copyright 2011 by Mike Long