Think the opposite of sweet Mary, as Diaz is a very naughty, potty-mouthed broad in Walk Hard Jake Kasdan’s new comedy, Bad Teacher. Even though it co-stars a decent bunch of comedy talent in Jason Segel, Lucy Punch and John Michael Higgins, make no mistake; this is a Diaz ogle fest, pure and simple. So, if her presence and ditzy humour tickles your fancy, this is for you. But it features a cynical edge to her usual delivery, showing Diaz becoming more jaded with age, and adopting the self-depreciating brand of humour that Segel and others of the Apatow gang embrace. It also has Lee Eisenberg involved, the scribe behind the American TV series, The Office, and Ghostbusters III.
Elizabeth Halsey (Diaz) is a teacher desperate to find a rich man and get the hell out of education. But even though she’s drop-dead gorgeous and has a body to die for – as seconded by lustful gym teacher Russell Gettis (Segel), she’s still unlucky in love, having been dropped by her sugar daddy because of her money fixation. When new supply teacher Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake) with his wealthy family connections arrives on the school scene, Elizabeth makes it her mission to woo him and get the hell out of dodge – if only she could get a boob job asap. But she has fierce competition from squeaky-clean but slightly uptight teacher Amy Squirrel (Punch). Who will get their hands on the man and the school prize money for best grades first?
On the plus side, Bad Teacher provides some giggles and a lot of indulgent, zany antics from an intriguing ensemble cast. It’s worth a look alone to see ex-real-life partners Diaz and Timberlake’s former favourite sex position re-enacted – or just for Diaz in all her glory as she rocks every outfit, regardless of what sex you are. Cue Daisy Duke slow-mo moment. Though sorry, Diaz, Simpson still has more curves to carry off the look.
On the downside, Bad Teacher’s gags feel forced and relentlessly tiresome at times. It does suffer from over-the-top theatrics, as some characters seriously outstaying their screen welcome, namely Punch as the Squirrel who goes into her usual near-meltdown in character. Plus we get teased about a previous Squirrel episode, but never get to hear the full details, which it feels like it’s building up to reveal.
Timberlake will appease his adoring fans, but for the rest of us, apart from rekindling any trashy celebrity-mag fascination with watching his every move with Diaz on screen for signs of a glimmer of left-over lust, his weak performance as Scott is easily forgotten – and that’s nothing to do with the equally unappealing mummy’s boy character; Timberlake just doesn’t have enough comedy prowess to pull it off opposite gift-of-the-gag Diaz. Worse yet, he gets seriously lost in any exchange between Diaz and Punch.
More interesting is Segel as horny Mr Gettis, constantly after a bit of Ms Halsey. His on-screen chemistry with Diaz is naturally flirtaeous and effortless as he throws in glib observations that prove far more memorable than a lot of the all-out buffoonery from the rest of the cast. Another future Diaz-Segel comedy pairing would be a welcome thing.
Without giving away all its tricks – and sadly, many of the punchlines are featured in the trailer, Bad Teacher isn’t a lesson in rocket science, or taxing on the brain. Diaz + hot outfits + attitude = money-spinner, and as every red-blooded male’s fantasy high-school distraction, Diaz tops the class poll. Think a female Billy Bob’s Willie – but with miles better pins, and you have a cheeky, carefree comedy option this week up for grabs.
By Lisa Giles-Keddie
WATCH THE TRAILER