BAD TEACHER

This popcorn comedy is R-rated, so it has the requisite bodily fluids
and gross-out laffs. But a constellation of comic actors in their
element lifts it up a notch. There's a sluttishness to Cameron Diaz, a
slightly-beaten beauty that makes her ideal for the role, and she
plays well with Jason Segel, whose relationship with Diaz evolves with
charm and insults. Like that other “BAD” movie (SANTA), Teacher stays
true to itself most of the way, giving Cameron lots of Bad Girl time.
It softens twice — once with Diaz and a sensitive schoolboy, and at
the end with her and Segel — and you go with it because in both cases
it's handled lightly. Phyllis Smith of “The Office” is sweetly,
divinely funny. David Paymer has just a few lines but makes you wonder
where he's been. Lucy Punch, with perhaps the showiest role, comes
closest to sketch caricature, but nails it. And Justin Timberlake so
masterfully underplays his Goody Twoshoes part, you almost miss the
wit. But then he sings “Simpatico”.
Footnote: how's this for a double bill: Bad Teacher and Half Nelson.
— Jeff Schultz

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