Bad Teacher focuses on a school year in the life of Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz), an aging party girl, once destined to be a trophy wife, who instead ended up an incompetent middle-school English teacher. Dumped by one wealthy fiance, Elizabeth goes looking for another, and finds potential in Scott (Justin Timberlake), an heir who has altruistically signed up as a substitute teacher. Elizabeth must compete for Scott's affections with perky, perfectionist, white-swan history teacher Amy (Lucy Punch)—while first fending off and then (surprise!) slowly succumbing to the advances of schlubby gym teacher Russell (Jason Segel). The general argument holds that because studios produce so few films built around strong lady protagonists, Hollywood must hate women. But be careful what you wish for. Here, a "strong woman" means a lazy, lying, scheming, slutty, and obstinately materialistic one, whose sole redeeming virtue is her hard body (which the camera shamelessly ogles, as if the men watching need their hand held to look at an actress' ass), who is so delusional that she thinks her ostentatious assholery is rock-star sexy, and whose delusions are essentially validated by narrative resolution. In a role hardly larger than a cameo despite the fact that he's ostensibly the male romantic lead, at least Segel never tries to hide the fact that he's only here to pay his mortgage—which makes him the most likable presence onscreen.
Hot for teacher? Diaz as educator.
Opens at Pacific Place and other theaters, Fri., June 24. Rated R. 92 minutes.