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Bad Teacher (Blu-ray Review)

Amidst the many R-rated comedies of 2011, Bad Teacher managed to become a pretty decent sized hit.  It crossed over the $100 mil mark and seemed to prove that Cameron Diaz can draw in a crowd.  I still wish it was a better movie though.  Instead of playing out as a clever satire about a teacher who does not care or as a spin on the teacher who comes into the lives of students and makes a difference in an unorthodox way, this movie is simply a feature-length sitcom.  The film plays as an R-rated, raunchy comedy, where logic does not really apply and the overall plot is incredibly contrived and conventional.  Still, I did laugh quite a bit, thanks to the efforts of the cast.  While not adding a whole lot, the Blu-ray for the film does also provide an attempt to further lay out some laughs with all the outtake centric features.  Continue reading to find out more.

Film:

Cameron Diaz stars as Elizabeth Halsey.  As the film begins, Elizabeth has finished working for a year as a teacher, with plans to quit for good, now that she has found a rich fiancé to mooch off of.  Her plans soon backfire, as the engagement is broken off and 3 months later, she finds herself back teaching again.  Elizabeth is not a great teacher by any means.  She does not bother to form any kind of curriculum, cares little about learning her student’s names, and proceeds to play them movies during the day, while she sleeps at her desk.  Things take a turn for Elizabeth when she meets a new teacher, Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake), who is both rich and incredibly handsome.  Elizabeth decides that the only way to get herself away from teaching, let alone working in general, is by winning the love of Scott.  Her plan will now revolve around raising enough money to get a boob job, which would hopefully make her appear to be more of a catch for Scott.  Among the many ways to raise money, Elizabeth needs to now get her students to score the highest on a state exam, which would award her a large monetary prize.

The film also stars Jason Segel as a gym teacher who is not afraid to hide the fact that he is into Elizabeth and will continue to openly hit on her.  Additionally, Lucy Punch stars as Amy Squirrel, a rival teacher, focused on bringing Elizabeth down.  Many other familiar faces pop up as well, including John Michael Higgins as the school principal, Eric Stonestreet (of Modern Family) as Elizabeth’s roommate, Phyllis Smith (of The Office), and Thomas Lennon.  It is a solid ensemble cast of people who can be very funny.

As I have stated, I do think this movie is quite funny, for a film that does not seem to try very hard.  I really would have enjoyed seeing how this movie could have played out if it was more of a subversive comedy in the same vein of a similar titled but far greater film – Bad Santa, but as it stands, Bad Teacher operates at a simple level, which is good enough for a disposable sort of comedy.  Rather than developing interesting characters or an exciting storyline, the film goes for a broader sense of comedy.  Personally, I was hoping for a darker comedy, punctuated by some great laugh out loud moments, but I am not upset at what I received overall.  It is lightweight fun.

In the lead role of the bad teacher, Cameron Diaz is a lot of fun here.  It seems that she has become a bit polarizing for people in terms of her persona in films, but I enjoyed her a lot here.  Ditching the ditziness that she has played up a lot in her past roles, her work as Elizabeth is a welcome change.  Elizabeth is foul-mouthed, blunt, rude, and downright mean to people throughout the film, and Diaz has found a way to make it work.  I would not say I was right there with her as a person, but I did have fun following this horrid character.  The script does not exactly provide her with a character arc that makes her character any more unlikable by the end of the film, despite it trying to do so, but that did not stop me from enjoying this character.

As for the rest of the cast, Timberlake was a lot of fun as the doofus object of affection, clearly showing that he is not afraid to let himself look like an idiot for the sake of humor.  I say that in a positive manner, as I do like him as an actor and his ridiculous character suits this film.  Lucy Punch is also fun as the adversary for Elizabeth, finding the right balance between irritant and committed to playing a certain character type.  It is Jason Segel who becomes the scene stealer throughout this film.  Despite having far less to do than the rest of the cast (and he is technically the male lead in a lot of ways), every scene he is in had me cracking up.

The film was written by frequent writers for the American version of The Office, Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky.  As their previous film collaboration turned out to be the awful Year One, I am glad that they have managed to bounce back in a, despite their sitcom roots still feeling very apparent in the way this film has been plotted out and delivered on in terms of comedic style.  Bad Teacher was directed by Jake Kasdan, who previously directed the vastly underrated Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story as well as debuted with the vastly underseen Zero Effect.  For this film, it seems more like Kasdan merely managed to bring a lot of funny people together and let them work, but as a big studio film, which turned into a relative hit, I am curious to see where he goes from here.

With a film like this, the rewatch value is certainly something that should dictate how much I enjoyed this film.  Having given it another viewing, I can say that I did appreciate the laughs I had with it more.  It is a quick 90 minute breeze, which isn’t necessarily aided by the unrated version that has turned up here, but still manages to be entertaining.  Again, overall I did laugh quite a bit throughout this film.  It is in no way deep or well thought out in terms of its story, but it is an easy enough comedy to get some good laughs out of and Diaz has enough fun letting herself loose.

Video:

As generally expected these days when I get to look at Blu-rays for movies produced by Sony Pictures, Bad Teacher does look great.  Even as an easy going sitcom, which one would not expect to be the most visually alluring, almost everything about this transfer is great.  The 1080p HD transfer is pretty fantastic, with plenty of fine moments of detail fully registering on screen.  The colors all pop and feel perfectly balanced, darker scenes and the black levels all feel well handled, and textures all register cleanly, which is quite important when it comes to the Cameron Diaz car wash scene.  It is an incredibly clean transfer that does great justice to showing what Blu-ray is capable of.

Audio:

Bad Teacher’s audio track is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack.  This basically means that it sounds pretty great throughout.  The track manages to properly present the various channels appropriately.  It never feels overly cluttered in one area or spread too thin.  As a comedy, there is not much in the way of complexity in sound, beyond the various scenes set within the school that feature a lot of background chatter, so as a dialogue driven film, the audio mix feels very appropriate throughout.  It is a fine audio presentation that does proper justice for the film.

Special Features:

Depending on how funny one finds all of the bonus features, this score could somewhat vary, but as it stands, none of these extras go into the actual making of the film, so there is really nothing but some nice comedic moments to get out of these extras.  Fortunately they are all presented in HD, so that’s always a plus.

Features include:

Unrated Version of the film – this version also has the option of an added footage marker, so one can see exactly what scenes were added.  Doesn’t necessarily improve the film, just adds some more jokes along the way.

Deleted Scenes – about 6 minutes worth of added comedic moments.

Outtakes – A mix of bloopers and extended scenes.

Way Behind the Scenes with Jason and Justin – About 5 minutes of Jason and Justin riffing off of one another for fun.

Raising More than Funds – The all important look at the car wash sequence.

Blu-ray Exclusive Features:

Jams Yearbook – Hidden Moments – Interactive Yearbook Featuring Outtakes with the Cast.  Basically a breakdown of all of the cast members in the film, showing scenes and outtakes featuring them.

A Very Odd Blacksmith Story – A pretty unfunny featurette looking at one of the writer’s small cameos in the film.

Swimming with the Dolphins – Actor John Michael Higgins provides a look at his dolphin obsessed character

Good Teacher – Many of the cast and crew impart some of their thoughts on what it takes to be a good teacher

MovieIQ

BD-Live

Previews

DVD Copy of the film

Final Thoughts:

I was happy to find that I appreciated this film more the second time around.  Much like Horrible Bosses, despite its raunchiness, the film is not necessarily edgy in any way, but it does provide a humorous couple of hours to enjoy.  It kind of goes all in on the jokes, but I was happy to see the majority of them land, so I see it as an easy type of film to enjoy.  The Blu-ray picks up some slack by having an awesome video transfer and solid audio presentation, with a bunch of extras that may only serve to be humorous, but are still entertaining.  If you missed it in theaters, Bad Teacher is a fun film to check out.

 

Order Your Copy of the Film Here:

 


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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

2 Responses to “Bad Teacher (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Part of me wants to see this and part of me says don’t waste your time!

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    If you don’t find Cameron Diaz irritating, as some do, then I would say go for it Brian. Although it does have women being funny in it…