Gold-digger Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) is forced back into the teaching position she despises after being dumped by her rich boyfriend. Instead of instructing the students and nurturing their young minds, she shows them movies like Lean On Me and Dangerous Minds while sneaking in sips of booze and cat napping at her desk. She hones in on Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake), a handsome substitute teacher who belongs to a family of considerable wealth but, to her dismay, he falls for the star teacher, Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch). Intent on snagging herself another sugar daddy, she starts saving money for breast implants but her efforts to afford the $10,000 price tag aren’t enough.
After she learns the teacher whose class receives the highest state test scores is awarded a $5,700 bonus check, she starts making her students apply themselves but her aggressive teaching style yields nothing but bellyaching and malcontent. Determined to win the money, she poses as an investigative journalist following up on claims that the state exams discriminate against blacks and minorities, allowing her an the opportunity to steal the test questions from Carl Halabi (Thomas Lennon). The hostile rivalry between Elizabeth and Amy turns into full-scale war after Elizabeth’s students scores are, not only the highest in the entire county but, enough to unseat Amy’s three year victory.
There are plenty of rotten pranks and downright nasty schemes that go on throughout the film, along with drinking and drugs, lots of swearing, an awkward dry-humping scene, and a pair of surgically enhanced breasts that will have men’s eyes popping right out of their sockets. The humor is hit-and-miss but when it succeeds, it’s shamefully funny. It’s no comedic gem but it does satisfy a guilty pleasure to see Diaz play a greedy, thoughtless, conniving bitch. In Hollywood years, she’s ‘old’ but, damn, she is looking better than ever and I give her props for flaunting what she’s got in Bad Teacher.
I loved Lucy Punch as Amy Squirrel. Who is this woman who nailed the role of a well-intentioned but batshit crazy teacher so perfectly? She captured all of Amy’s neurotic tendencies, exasperating competitiveness, nervous tics, and the smarmy smile that I kept hoping Elizabeth would knock right off of her face. Thumbs up to Jason Segel as Russell, the school gym teacher pining for Elizabeth, John Michael Higgins as the overwhelmed Principal Snur, and Phyllis Smith as reserved, mousy Lynn. The only person I didn’t get was Justin Timberlake’s character – he was just plain weird and dull.
This was a mediocre comedy saved by its cast. There is a lot that doesn’t make sense and you basically have to toss your morals to the wayside. Don’t get too analytical. This movie is not an attack on the fine men and women who sacrifice salary for their passion to teach. It’s a short-sighted, bawdy summertime flick that wants to tickle your funny bone, even if it doesn’t always succeed.
Annie (Kristen Wiig), a down-and-out woman who’s lost her business and boyfriend, is invited to be her childhood friend’s (Lillian, played by Maya Rudolph) Maid of Honor. Coordinating the wedding is the insanely rich and pretentious wife of the bride’s husband’s boss, Helen (Rose Byrne), who from the get-go, tirelessly competes for Lillian’s attention. In the mix are Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), a housewife who is desperate to escape the confines of suburbia, Becca (Ellie Kemper), a clueless newlywed, and Megan (Melissa McCarthy), the groom’s crass sister. The subtle rivalry between Annie and Helen eventually backfires on the both of them and it’s up to the two adversaries to put aside their differences in order to save the big day.
One of the more hyped-up movies of 2011, Bridesmaids is marketed as a raunchy, female version of The Hangover, which is understandable but unnecessarily deceiving. The only correlation between the two is an impending marriage. This is less about the bridesmaids and more about about its central character, Annie, a self-loathing, loveless character who projects her negative attitude on to anyone who has the misfortune to cross paths with her. They include customers in the jewelry store she works at, Nathan (Chris O’Dowd), the baby-faced cop she ends up romancing, and her own best friend. At times, Annie is difficult to empathize with because she’s such a destructive force. She’s so intent on sabotaging herself that she loses her job and drives away a man who only wants to see her succeed and be happy.
You may not realize it right away but Bridesmaids is a chick flick that’s been made palpable for men with some raunchy (though implied) humor and the really funny comedic relief of Melissa McCarthy. Kristen Wiig shows quite a bit of restraint, to the point where I wondered if this is the same ham of Saturday Night Live fame. I was disappointed, especially during the airplane scene, which was her moment to shine. It seemed like such a wasted opportunity, both for Wiig and her fans. Whether this was her choice or the director’s, I don’t know. McLendon-Covey and Kemper receive limited screen time, as does John Hamm, who plays Wiig’s boorish, inconsiderate ‘fuck buddy’.
Besides McCarthy, O’Dowd and Byrne deserve pats on the backs for their performances. O’Dowd may seem out of place with his Irish accent but he manages to infuse some much needed positive energy. He’s silly and lovable with amusing observations about life and his law enforcement profession. My favorite was the quip about the ugly carrot in every bag (and I just ate it). Byrne as the gorgeous, impeccably groomed trophy wife was perfectly cast, as well.
The film clocks in at two hours and five minutes, thanks to jokes getting stretched well past their expiration. I like Kristen Wiig but her writing, especially the dialog, doesn’t always gel. Sometimes, it’s obvious a scene exists solely to showcase herself as ‘the emerging female comedian’ yet she never fully satisfies. Other times, the banter between characters is so unrealistic and outrageous that it’s no longer humorous but outright awkward to watch. I squirmed more during the jewelry store scenes than I did during the much talked about diarrhea outbreak. Kristen Wiig is no Tina Fey but I don’t hold that against her.