Perhaps it is just my tendency to go against the grain when it comes to comedy. As critics and moviegoers raved about Bridesmaids, I completely hated it. Now, the critics are going to town on Bad Teacher, raging against it. I went to the theater with low expectations, despite the fact that I had been looking forward to this trailer for months after seeing the trailer:
Justin Timberlake! Jason Segel! How could this not be funny? I have almost unlimited comedic respect for these men (Timberlake after all his work on SNL, Segel after he wrote and starred in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall). Any movie they both signed off on had to be fantastic, I was sure.
So I did not let the bad reviewed deter me from Bad Teacher. And no matter what the critics say, let me tell you: This is the best comedy of the summer BY FAR.
I am not a huge Cameron Diaz fan, but this is her movie. Her delivery is excellent–her body language, facial expressions, and presence on camera make us root for a character who is so morally gone. Timberlake has no problem making fun of himself–his horrible acoustic guitar song is proof of that. He isn’t afraid to take risks and look like an idiot, and he is so much funnier for it.
As for Segel, well, I will continue to see anything he has a hand in (even if that means going to see his upcoming Muffets movie–ugh). His timing grants him the ability to draw a laugh with only a raised eyebrow. He completely knows what he’s doing. And, unlike other not-mind-blowingly-attractive comedians in romantic comedies, it is not unreasonable to see his Russell ending up with Diaz’s Elizabeth.
There is also something to be said for the fact that this movie doesn’t try to end with a moral or teach you any lessons. Elizabeth breaks rules–from laws to normal codes of ethics–and suffers very little retribution. This is not the story of a woman looking for redemption, and Bad Teacher is much funnier for that.
The critics wish there was more depth or more outrageousness. Why did Elizabeth become a teacher in the first place? Why aren’t things more over the top? Certainly, there are tweaks that could have been made that would have made Bad Teacher a great film, but it is good enough right now. It will make you laugh and you can quote it afterwards–the two marks of a good comedy in my book.