Bad Teacher

Director Jake Kasdan must have had some very eccentric teachers if his latest movie is anything to go by.  In fairness many of the ones from my school years had their odd mannerisms too, which is why I still remember them.  Making a comedy out of such a premise isn’t too difficult and one he mostly succeeds in doing with some frenetic humour revealing a stranger side to the teaching profession.


Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz) is not your average teacher.  Prone to swearing at her students, blackmailing fellow staff and partaking in illicit substances, her methods are not ones found on any curriculum.  When substitute teacher Scott (Justin Timberlake) arrives, she aims to have her way with him.  With gym instructor Russell (Jason Segel) admiring from afar, her antics soon turn the school into a centre for anarchy than academia.


Cameron Diaz earns her pay packet with Bad Teacher.  Making the most of a role requiring her to be as sleazy as possible, she does what she can.  Seeing how the script doesn’t offer much to play with, her performance is the highlight of a somewhat mediocre movie.  Although the crazy characters are in place with some decent acting, the screenplay doesn’t have enough to sustain their antics.  If more sub-plots or silly situations were created, it could have made for a more fun film.


Issues of self-esteem and ensuring untapped potential is reached are reasonably realised within the sparse screenplay.  It is ironic these threads are raised given Bad Teacher has its own potential wasted.  Whilst everyone obviously had a good time making it, Kasdan perhaps focuses too much on crude humour and not enough on creating genuine wit.  Having directed the great comedy Orange County, one knows he can do better although what’s on display raises a few laughs.


Bad Teacher isn’t ‘bad’ but not ‘good’ either.  Had it been more adventurous in pushing the comedic envelope it could have been more memorable unlike the average attempt this quirky ode to education brings.


Rating out of 10:  5


Beautiful Lies

Sometimes one has to question if we’re receiving the best of foreign cinema.  Whilst most American movies are released no matter the quality, when choosing foreign language movies it’s hoped the distributors pay some attention to their merits.  Beautiful Lies is a good example.  Whilst looking very pretty and having a well-known name with ‘Amelile’ actress Audrey Tautou, this French slice of froth is hardly representative of how good European movies can be.


Hair salon owner Emilie (Audrey Tautou) is in a quandary.  Wanting to help her depressed mother Maddy (Nathalie Baye) snap out of her stupor, she searches for a way to do this.  Retrieving an anonymous love letter written by salon handyman Jean (Sami Bouajila), she gives it to her.  Enraptured by Jean’s words, Maddy becomes determined to track down the author no matter what the cost – much to Emilie’s increasingly exasperated chagrin.


For a movie marketed as being a light romantic comedy, Beautiful Lies has very little of it.  It’s almost mean-spirited in its approach as it increases the sorry farce the trio create.  Emilie’s constant interfering and Maddy’s neurosis makes one wonder what Jean sees in either of them as both ladies are quite unpleasant characters.  This immediately makes it difficult to care what happens with a ponderous running time needlessly dragging out events.


Comedy can be very subjective and perhaps something is lost in translation, although Beautiful Lies’ script never properly gels.  There’s a feeling moments have been cut that would have made sense of an increasingly confused narrative.  It’s a shame as the general concept is sound, but the execution is so woeful and the screenplay demeans the women in a very off-putting manner.  The French scenery is always a plus however even if the story around it fails to ignite.


Beautiful Lies is a poor effort making one wonder where the really good foreign films are.  Searching for such productions can be fun, although the local distributors need to take more care in selecting offerings better than this mediocre and tired effort.


Rating out of 10:  4