Let’s get one thing straight. No-one, but no-one, likes a worthy teacher film. Nothing brings up the traditional blogger’s lunch of White Lightning and pocket fluff into a hecklersprayer’s gullet quicker than watching some earnest nonsense where some skinny blonde chick like Mickey Piffler changes the lives of a gang of murderous children simply through wearing jeans and riddling Shakespearean sonnets with F-bombs.
Oh Captain, My Captain? Oh Come on, My Chuffin’ arse, more like.
So you’d think a film like Bad Teacher – a film that takes that concept and shoves a Molotov cocktail up its fundament – would be something appraoching perfection. But unfortunately, the filmmakers have not entertainingly flipped their Dangerous Minds. Instead, they’ve got the DVDs of charming Jack Black softy-comedy School Of Rock and not-so-charming little-person-abuse-comedy Bad Santa, ground them together into carcinogenic dust, and sprinkled it all over Cameron Diaz’s cougar mum.
Oh, hang on! That’s actually Cameron Diaz! The years can be cruel.
Cammy plays Elizabeth Halsey, the money-grabbing, conniving, lazy, pot-smoking, hard-drinking and inexplicably employed titular Bad Teacher, who is dumped by her filthy rich fianc? for her money-grabbing, conniving, etc etc ways, and left penniless. But goodness me, what luck! Who should turn up as a new colleague but filthy rich and dorkilicious Scott (Justin Timberlake)?
No luck there, though, because despite Liz’s sinewy charms, the Trousersnake seems to prefer the tender embrace of her irritatingly perfect rival, Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch). Nothing left for Liz to do but raise 10 grand for a brand-new pair of luscious Scott-baiting boobies…
And so the paltry few laughs trickle forth. It’s not a terrible film. It’s a film that begs a lot of questions. For example: how are you meant to sympathise with a character that’s such an utter bitch to everyone under the sun and has no redeeming qualities, and whose redemptive moment involves accusing an 11-year-old of statutory rape?
What’s more disturbing, the bit where Cameron rubs up against a car in Daisy Duke shorts like an aging lizard, or the bit where she and Timbers re-enact their bizarrely fully-clothed sex life for our meagre enjoyment? Can we really celebrate a film where Jason Segel turning up every half-an-hour to be a bit sarcastic is a revelatory highlight equal to Jenny Agutter in the shower in American Werewolf In London?
And why does Justin Timberlake recite every line like he’s reading it off a Post-it note stuck on his co-star’s forehead?
All in all, it’s a bit of a misfire. Not funny enough, not sexy enough, not as caustic as Bad Santa, not as heart-warming as School Of Rock, clich?-ridden, stuffed to the brim with annoying archetypes. And while Diaz may give a decent funny turn in parts, you still end up wanting to fill her impressive collection of ankle boots with some kind of poisonous insect swarm. But hell, at least there was one positive: the kids suffered throughout. And that’s the kind of message hecklerspray can get behind.