The tag line of “Bad Teacher” is: “She doesn’t give an “F.”"
After seeing the movie, you won’t either.
Movies entertain because they manage to take you from the here and now. Horror, science fiction, fantasy or drama, entertaining ones tend to move you somehow.
“Bad Teacher” moves you too, and it is entertaining, though not in the way that you may think because it takes viewers to a place that some of us have spent thousands of dollars in therapy to be far, far away from. What’s really odd is that, despite having a relatively attractive cast–though Jason Segel seems to be putting on the pounds–everyone is so ugly.
It would have been almost entertaining if the meanness and pettiness let up once in a while, but instead, time and time again, we’re hit over the head with it till we can barely stand the unending negativity.
Then it begins again, seemingly with the goal of topping itself.
“Bad Teacher” never needed to be all goodness and light–I like films with a bit of edge–but just varying the degrees of loathing (self and otherwise) does not in and of itself make good entertainment.
There is virtually no one in this movie with any redeeming characteristics. I mean that literally, by the way. As I mentioned when I wrote about the trailer yesterday, you have to be able to relate in some way to a character or characters in a film. As it stands I didn’t care about ANYONE. I mean, I have seen slasher films with more empathetic characters.
What’s even odder is that, despite taking place in a school, children exist only as props for adults to mock or embarrass, which is not to say that there aren’t laughs to be had, though it’s the type of laughter that you regret because it says more about you as a person than what you’re laughing at.
This appeared to be the case at the theater I saw it at because, at first, the laughter came fast and furious, though after thirty or so minutes, it got very intermittent.
The best analogy I could find to describe this film is when you see someone trip and fall. Assuming that they aren’t hurt, it’s kind of funny (Admit it. You know it’s true). The thing is, if the person falls again, and again, and again, at some point what was once funny, becomes sad.
So that’s my “Bad Teacher” experience: There are some funny moments, but they’re fleeting, while the mean-spiritedness seems to go on forever.
I mean, “Slap Shot” (incidentally, one of the best sports films EVER) is not only more cynical than “Bad Teacher,” it’s quite possibly one of the most cynical films I have ever seen.
But you know what? You care for just about everyone in the film, so no matter what depths they sink to, or what depravity they engage in, you’re still rooting for them.
And that’s “Bad Teacher’s” greatest problem: Since there’s no one to root for, there’s no one to care about, and there’s even less reason to see the movie.