If you've seen the trailer for Bad Teacher and liked what you saw, then odds are you'll probably enjoy the film overall. Those odds might roughly be 60-40 but then I'm no psychic. And Cameron Diaz's Ms Halsey is no Maths teacher; Algebra is not her strong suit. Nor is English Lit, Geography or manners, come to think of it.
Elizabeth Halsey is the kind of person who chose teaching as a career because it offered summers off; the kind of educator who'd rather pop on a DVD about an inspirational teacher rather than even think about attempting to be one herself to her junior high class.
Unfortunately for them, Elizabeth's rich fiance dumped her over the summer break and so she returns to the classroom, even less motivated than before. For teaching that is. She's very much on the look out for a rich suitor, one who will either marry her or just pony up the dough for a boob job. And she thinks she may have found him with the arrival of substitute teacher, Mr Delacorte (Justin Timberlake), whose not unattractive and hails from a wealthy family.
But there's a spanner in the works, or, to be more precise, a squirrel. Ms. Squirrel (Lucy Punch), is everything Ms Halsey is not: an attentive, dedicated teacher, and dating Mr Delacorte. She's also highly strung and is driven to distraction by her fellow teachers' inability to see how half-arsed Elizabeth's approach to education is, making it her mission to expose the bad teacher.
But Elizabeth's attitude changes when she learns of a $5700 bonus for the teacher whose class scores the highest in the State exams; even more so when she concocts a plan to get her hands on a copy of the exam paper.
Watching the blonde one-time starlet of Charlie's Angels and so many rom-coms, hung over and taking hits from the bong every chance she gets, may not sit well with those who have come to love ditzy Cameron Diaz, but give me mean, foul mouthed - and, sure, casually racist - Cameron over the ditz any day. Diaz has always had the comedic chops but it's been a while since she's had this juicy a role to sink them into.
But as good as she is, Diaz is upstaged at every turn by Brit actress Punch, who isn't afraid to look silly - or scabby - to get a laugh. And both women fare better than Timberlake, in an SNL sketch-like role stretched too thin, and Jason Segel, who turns in another of his affable sap performances as the gym teacher with the hots for Ms Halsey.
As a chicks-gone-wild comedy, Bad Teacher doesn't get anywhere near the riotous success of Bridesmaids, in terms of laughs, smut or heart; Ms Halsey is no more believable or sympathetic for all her character flaws and vices. But in a movie world where sisters are doing it for themselves and can do anything the boys can, however gross-out, Bad Teacher scores a pass mark.