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06/24/2011

'Bad Teacher' sent to comic detention

A couple of weeks ago, this looked like a blossoming cinematic summer of lowbrow, raunchy girl power.

Well, "Bridesmaids" did its part with bottom-feeder bodily malfunction laughs the like of which haven't been seen since Jeff Daniels' outrageous guest bathroom experience in "Dumb & Dumber" way back in the prehistoric comic ages of 1994.

Unfortunately, "Bad Teacher" can't carry the Girls Can Be Just As Comically Nasty As Boys torch forward.

Cameron Diaz's jilted fiancée/teacher who, according to "Bad Teacher's" catchphrase, doesn't give an F might just find that some movie critics who rate flicks from A to F do.

Showing flickers of creativity in early scenes, when awful high school teacher Elizabeth Halsey (Diaz) shows her students movies about teachers teaching instead of bothering to do it herself, "Bad Teacher" quickly becomes a mirrored image of the main character's goal in life:  a boob job.

Like "Bridesmaids" and "The Hangover Part II," "Bad Teacher" provides a steady barrage of below-the-belt humor, drugs and sex.  The only thing missing here most of the time is laugh-provoking gags.

Diaz ("Green Hornet," "Knight and Day") snarls her way on cue through a limp script by writing partners Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg ("Year One").  There's even the added curiosity of Justin Timberlake, Diaz's former significant other, co-starring as Russell, a substitute teacher she has her eye on.

That fizzles as well.  Timberlake, an excellent actor, really, gets lost behind a pair of plastic-rimmed glasses and a milquetoast character.  The aw shucks love interest is brought to the screen in an aw shucks, who cares? manner by Jason Segel, who fails to connect with Diaz or his character.

Only Lucy Punch (Darla in "Dinner for Schmucks") dives head first into her character, a nutty goody-two-shoes teacher named Amy Squirrel.

Director Jake Kasdan ("Walk Hard:  The Dewey Cox Story") makes a primal filmmaking mistake in this one.  Raunchy material is fine as long as it's in tandem with humor.  There are at least 10 misses to every joke that scores in this one.  

Diaz should know that.  She was hilarious sporting that, uh, special hair gel as the title character in "There's Something About Mary" in 1998.

One word stands out in "Bad Teacher." And it ain't "Teacher."

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