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Bad Teacher: Unrated Edition Blu-ray Review

Bad Teacher (2011) movie poster Bad Teacher

Theatrical Release: June 24, 2011 / Running Time: 92 Minutes (Theatrical Version), 98 Minutes (Unrated Version) / Rating: R (Theatrical Version), Unrated / Songs List

Director: Jake Kasdan / Writers: Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg

Cast: Cameron Diaz (Elizabeth Halsey), Justin Timberlake (Scott Delacorte), Jason Segel (Russell Gettis), Lucy Punch (Amy Squirrel), John Michael Higgins (Principal Wally Snur), Phyllis Smith (Lynn Davies), Thomas Lennon (Carl Halabi), Molly Shannon (Melody - Garrett's Mom), Eric Stonestreet (Kirk), Dave (Gruber) Allen (Sandy Pinkus), Matthew J. Evans (Garrett Tiara), Kaitlyn Dever (Sasha Abernathy), Jillian Armenante (Ms. Pavicic), Kathryn Newton (Chase Rubin-Rossi), Igail Ben Yair (Arkady), Rick Overtone (Philip), Nat Faxon (Mark Pubich), Stephanie Faracy (Mrs. Pubich), David Paymer (Doctor Vogel), Alanna Ubach (Angela), Christine Smith (Danni), Daniel Castro (Rodrigo - Acne Kid), Adrian Kali Turner (Shawn)

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The title Bad Teacher sums up the film it's attached to quite effectively. This R-rated comedy stars Cameron Diaz as Elizabeth Halsey, a 7th grade language arts teacher at John Adams Middle School in suburban Chicago.

Elizabeth is not just a bad educator, but quite clearly lacking in character as well. At the movie's opening, she is given an understated send-off (complete with a $37 Boston Market gift card) from the school
at which she spent just a single unremarkable year. She intends to get married over the summer and not look back, retiring from academics and employment at large. But Elizabeth's filthy rich fiancι (Nat Faxon) calls off the engagement and the relationship, leaving her broke, homeless, and suddenly without security. She sheepishly returns to JAMS in the fall, her every attention turned to finding a new man who can provide for her.

Elizabeth becomes convinced that the path to an affluent partner requires growth, not the personal or spiritual kind, but the physical growth that only breast implants can provide. Alas, the procedure is well out of reach on her teacher's salary. While figuring out how to overcome that obstacle, she subjects her students to one inspirational teacher movie after another (starting with Stand and Deliver), freeing herself up to doze off and sneak in sips of booze.

Other potential answers to Elizabeth's money problems arise in a car wash fundraiser and affluent substitute teacher Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake). When neither of those pan out as planned, Elizabeth hatches a scheme to steal an advance copy of the state's standardized test to earn the incentive bonus her school awards to the teacher with the highest scores. Trouble is that goody two-shoes colleague Ms. Squirrel (Lucy Punch), who has lured away that eligible sub, is wise to Elizabeth's shenanigans and eager to bust her. Meanwhile, Elizabeth hasn't given up on love or Mr. Delacorte just yet.

"Bad Teacher" stars Cameron Diaz in the titular role as apathetic 7th grade language arts teacher Elizabeth Halsey.

Bad Teacher looks and sounds like a one-joke premise: a middle school teacher misbehaves. That said teacher is a woman is both a little unusual and integral to the joke. Comedy has long been a male-dominated domain. There aren't even many working actresses whose names we can attach the word "vehicle" to with any meaning: Jennifer Aniston, Katherine Heigl, Julia Roberts. With this movie, Cameron Diaz proves she can handle a project like them with exclusive pre-title billing.

It's been seventeen years since Diaz made her film debut in Jim Carrey's The Mask. She has remained as visibly employed and famous as almost any actress in that time, occasionally getting to stretch her dramatic muscles for esteemed directors like Oliver Stone (Any Given Sunday), Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), Cameron Crowe (Vanilla Sky), and Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York). Such work has not been her calling card as much as dumb comedy, though, a genre most personified by her 2008 hit What Happens in Vegas with Ashton Kutcher.

Diaz has had plenty of box office success, but not much of it can be personally attributed to her. Any actress could have voiced Princess Fiona in the Shrek movies, but Diaz got the part and went on to command a $10 million salary for a few weeks in the recording studio on each of the lucrative sequels. Her early career successes were clearly earned by Carrey and Roberts (My Best Friend's Wedding). The two Charlie's Angels movies grossed $100 M domestically and $250 M worldwide on a familiar brand, a high action-comedy concept, and an ensemble. There's Something About Mary was a lightning in a bottle blockbuster, for whose leggy run the outrageous comedy stylings of the Farrelly Brothers seemed most responsible.

Recently eking past the $100 M mark domestically (and over $200 M and counting worldwide), Bad Teacher's strong showing belongs chiefly to Diaz. The film is hers and hardly a scene passes without her in it. I'm no Cameron Diaz fan, but she pulls off this edgy yet mainstream project as well as any A-list actress could have.

Wealthy, geeky substitute teacher Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake) immediately catches Elizabeth's eye. Squeaky clean, tightly-wound fellow teacher Ms. Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch) becomes Elizabeth's nemesis.

It's easy to guess what makes Elizabeth so bad: snapping and cursing at her students, not filtering herself for her colleagues, relying heavily on alcohol and marijuana, and not buying into traditional notions of romance. Diaz plays against type; instead of her usual charming ditz (a persona I find annoying), she plays a heartless cynical bitch. You're not supposed to like her and you don't, but being inappropriate in front of kids is one of the most reliable sources of comedy around and plenty of amusement is mined from that here.

If that was the only thing offered, Bad Teacher would probably grow old fast. But the movie populates itself with a supporting cast of entertaining personalities, each making the most of their moments.
From the dolphin-obsessed principal (John Michael Higgins) to the older, mild-mannered teacher (Phyllis Smith, "The Office") who remains a polite sounding board for Elizabeth's venom to Elizabeth's macho roommate (Eric Stonestreet, far from his "Modern Family" character), the movie distributes laughs evenly and ensures no interaction is one-way.

Bad Teacher feels very much like a part of Judd Apatow's universe. Though he had nothing to do with this, many individuals he's worked with over the years did. Director Jake Kasdan helmed The TV Set and Walk Hard for Apatow and, before those, five of the eighteen episodes of the exalted "Freaks and Geeks." That show is well-represented here. Jason Segel is appealing as the grounded gym teacher whose interest in Elizabeth is unreciprocated. Dave "Gruber" Allen, so memorable as "Freaks" guidance counselor Mr. Rosso, gets some of the funniest moments as a faculty member with a similar taste for musical performance. Even the series creator Paul Feig (who reunited with Apatow to direct this summer's other woman-driven R-rated comedy hit, Bridesmaids) makes a blink-and-miss appearance in the car wash scene.

Ordinarily laid-back gym teacher Russell Gettis (Jason Segel) gets fired up when Shawn claims LeBron James is better than Michael Jordan. The inevitably improved Ms. Halsey (Cameron Diaz) incorporates dodgeball and gold forehead stars into her curriculum.

Screenwriters Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg are best known for their 2006-10 work on NBC's "The Office" and as the scribes of the hypothetical Ghostbusters III script that Bill Murray just can't quite bring himself to read. They too teamed with Apatow on the 2009 dud Year One. Their Bad Teacher script is crude and vinegary, but not merely out of a desire to shock or offend. They don't even seek to balance the nasty stuff with nice; though redemption is inevitable, the film admirably avoids using sentiment or saccharinity to achieve it.

While this is not the kind of comedy I usually take to, Bad Teacher is executed too well not to enjoy. Kasdan has big shoes to fill; by the time his father, Lawrence, was 36, he had written The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Body Heat, The Big Chill, and Silverado, also directing the latter three. While the younger Kasdan's output is unlikely to elicit as much awe thirty years after release, he has yet to direct a bad movie. His comedy, which also includes 2002's Orange County, is sharp and funny, but not frequently recognized as such. At least in Bad Teacher, he's got his first big commercial hit. Let's hope that the opportunities that follow make good use of his talents.

In stores today, Bad Teacher is released on DVD, on Blu-ray, and in a Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack, all of which present the film in both its R-rated theatrical cut and an extended unrated cut with seamless branching. In a nice touch I've not before encountered, the Blu-ray (reviewed here) gives you the chance to watch the unrated cut with an added footage marker (an apple graphic, appropriately enough) designating where the movie is changed from its original theatrical release. That makes clear that some but not all of the 5 minutes and 40 seconds of additions contribute to the film's raciness. It's safe to say the longer edit would have also earned an R rating, but then Sony wouldn't have been able to advertise an unrated never-before-seen cut.

Bad Teacher: Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English, French), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English and Spanish
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Suggested Retail Price: $40.99
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap
Also available on DVD ($30.99 SRP), in Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack ($45.99 SRP),
and on Amazon Instant Video


Bad Teacher belongs to a dying breed of films shot in 1.85:1 and not placing that much importance on visual compositions. Nonetheless, the movie looks terrific in Sony's flawless Blu-ray presentation. The picture is expectedly clean, sharp, and vibrant; there isn't more to say about it than that. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio also satisfies, providing crisp dialogue and a large supply of well-incorporated licensed music without any concerns.

Musical math teacher Sandy Pinkus (Dave "Gruber" Allen) is one of eight faculty members profiled in the JAMS Yearbook. Cameron Diaz turns red and has trouble getting through a scene with Jason Segel in one of the four Outtakes clips.


Though the alternate cut (covered above) is the primary bonus feature, Sony's Blu-ray offers plenty more, all in high definition.

First up is JAMS Yearbook - Hidden Moments, an interactive feature that profiles four students and eight staff members. Each gets a page listing interests, quotes, and a "Most Likely to" claim. Each also gets a one-minute "Memorable Moments" reel of scenes, outtakes, and B-roll behind-the-scenes. It's a fun way to get better acquainted with the students and faculty.

A 5-minute gag reel consists mostly of takes blown by laughter. "Outtakes" (3:53) are similar, but sticks with four scenes elongated either by improvisation or by being difficult for the actors to get through with a straight face.

Mr. Delacorte (Justin Timberlake) is hit with an unexpectedly substantial question in this deleted costumed Tom Sawyer lesson hinting at his shallowness. Justin Timberlake and Jason Segel compliment each other's work in an insulting and insincere fashion in the funny "Way Behind the Scenes."

Six deleted scenes (5:44) are offered, none of these being bits added to the unrated cut. They include a couple of moments between Elizabeth and shy boy Garrett (Matthew J. Evans) and a look at Mr. Delacorte's enthusiastic classroom manner on a costumed Tom Sawyer lesson.

Five short featurettes follow.

"Way Behind the Scenes with Jason and Justin" (5:38) is a very funny bit with Timberlake and Segel sitting down next to one another in anticipation of an interview. They trade barbs, with Timberlake in the part of stuck-up diva and easygoing Segel insulting in an accidental way, each referencing the other's various works.

John Michael Higgins discusses his dolphin-loving character, Principal Wally Snur. An animated chalk drawing identifies Ms. Halsey as a heartbreaker on the Blu-ray's menu montage.

"Raising More Than Funds" (3:31) covers the car wash scene, touching upon its costume design.
"A Very Odd Blacksmith Story" (2:08) gathers thoughts from screenwriter Lee Eisenberg on his class trip cameo as Ezekiel Blacksmith. "Swimming with the Dolphins" (3:35) turns our attentions to Principal Snur's dolphin infatuation with witty, wry comments from actor John Michael Higgins. The final featurette considers the qualities that make a "Good Teacher" (4:04), contrasting them with those displayed by Elizabeth Halsey.

If you're all set up for BD-Live, you'll find other items available for stream, like a bonus feature excerpt from Zookeeper and an ad for Sony's 3D Handycam. You can also activate movieIQ+sync, allowing you to get timely trivia and actor/song information during movie playback through your player or your computer. For me, neither that nor the dedicated section worked properly, to my lack of chagrin.

The DVD misses out on some of the bonus features, retaining the two cuts of the movie, the deleted scenes, the outtakes, and the featurettes "Way Behind the Scenes" and "Raising More Than Funds."

The disc opens with trailers for Friends with Benefits, 30 Minutes or Less, Attack the Block, and Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest. The menu provides individual access to those along with previews for A Good Old Fashioned Orgy and Colombiana.

The menu creatively adds animated, childish chalk drawings to a scored montage of clips from the film. The disc supports bookmarks on the film and resuming of everything.

As usual, Sony utilizes Blu-ray case translucency to display additional artwork inside. An insert supplies a unique code for registering your disc in Sony's new rewards program.

Ms. Halsey (Cameron Diaz) gets wet at a well-attended school car wash fundraiser.


Bad Teacher easily surpassed my modest expectations and offered a reliably entertaining time. With a solid feature presentation and a good half-hour of extras, Sony's Blu-ray also can't be faulted in any major way. Not everyone will be able to enjoy a movie with such a foul protagonist and I didn't think I would, but there are just too many amusing characters and moments to write this off.

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Related Reviews:
New: Terri • Footloose (1984) • Zookeeper • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides • Workaholics: Season One
Cameron Diaz: Knight and Day • The Green Hornet | Jason Segel: I Love You, Man • Gulliver's Travels • Knocked Up
Lucy Punch: Dinner for Schmucks • You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger • Hot Fuzz • Take Me Home Tonight
Directed by Jake Kasdan: The TV Set | Written by Gene Stupnitsky & Lee Eisenberg: Year One
School Comedies: Easy A • Ferris Bueller's Day Off • Mean Girls 2 | R-Rated Comedies: Step Brothers • The Hangover

Bad Teacher Songs List (in order of use): Rockpile - "Teacher Teacher", Judas Priest - "You've Got Another Thing Coming", Craig Safan - "Stand and Deliver - Main Title", Charlie Wadhams - "Into My Mind", Tim Ziesmer - "Cafe Jazz", Whitesnake - "Still of the Night", Coolio - "Gangsta's Paradise", Dio - "Rainbow in the Dark", Tommy Tutone - "867-5309 Jenny", Rooney - "I Can't Get Enough", Tim Ziesmer - "Chicago Beatdown", Kate Booye and Jon Estep - "Everything You Need", Die Flippers - "Schlittenfahrt", "Deck the Halls", Marco Beltrami - "Mr. Himbry Gets It" from Scream, Period 5 - "Lullaby", Justin Timberlake - "Simpatico", Tim Ziesmer - "Swing Easy", Billy Preston - "Nothing from Nothing", Toots & the Maytals - "54-46 That's My Number", Daryl Hall & John Oates - "Sara Smile", Tim Ziesmer - "Smoothie", Judas Priest - "The Ripper", Joan Jett and the Blackhearts - "Real Wild Child"

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Reviewed October 18, 2011.

Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Columbia Pictures, Mosaic Productions, and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
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