Bad Teacher

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Bad Teacher Movie Poster Image
Raunchy Diaz, Timberlake comedy aims low, misses the target.
  • R
  • 2011
  • 92 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 31 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 58 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The positive messages aren't obvious, but if you dig, you can find a couple of take-aways: Love what you do or don't do that job at all. And be happy with yourself so you don't have to look elsewhere for validation.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The least conscientious of teachers finds success and gets her way (though, in a small step toward enlightenment, she does learn a little about accepting her body and not doing anything just for personal gain). Characters who care are portrayed as overzealous and geeky, and only the "bad" teacher has enough edge to be cool.


A woman drugs/"roofies" a man so she can steal something and blackmail him later with compromising pictures. A teacher yells and berates her students, sometimes throwing a basketball straight at them (played for laughs). Characters yell at each other.


Plenty of raunch. A man simulates sex while clothed with a woman who's not his girlfriend (later, he's shown with a wet spot on his groin). The same woman seduces another guy with frank talk about sex. Lots of sex talk in general, as well as much discussion about breast implants, with different characters weighing in on what they think of a woman's need for plastic surgery. Some groping and kissing and scanty outfits.


Frequent use of words including "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "d--k," "son of a bitch," "t-ts," "damn," "laid," "goddammit," "hell," "oh my God," and more, sometimes said in front of children.


Some label-dropping: Jaeger LeCoutre, Mercedes Benz, Jim Beam. The main character is a gold-digger, and she pays extra attention to men who appear to have lots of money.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A teacher boozes it up while in the classroom. A student also catches her smoking weed with a pipe; later, she's shown using a bong. Beer drinking and shots.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this raunchy comedy about a jaded, selfish, foul-mouthed middle-school teacher will likely attract teen fans expecting an over-the-top Apatowian laugh-fest, but what you get instead is an underwhelming film that's long on unlikeable characters (even though they're played by appealing stars like Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake) and short on wit or insight. There's plenty of swearing (including uses of words like "s--t" and "f--k" in front of tweens and teens), sexual references and innuendoes (including some simulated sex and lots of talk about breast implants), as well as dope smoking and drinking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLana R. June 24, 2020

Bad teacher is a bad movie

Boring, and not even funny. Don’t watch.
Parent of a 13-year-old Written byLucyWoolf April 25, 2019
Teen, 13 years old Written bykatie <3 May 30, 2012

Good movie

Great i saw it when i was 12 and i wasnt ready yet
Kid, 12 years old June 26, 2011

Good For Mature Tweens/Teens and Up

I saw it and I'm 12 but it was a bit innapropiate. I am very mature and I think that it still may have been a little innapropiate for me. I would say this... Continue reading

What's the story?

Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) can barely be called a teacher. Her idea of a curriculum is showing movies about much better educators in her classroom. She drinks and smokes weed on the job and has a general disdain for everything that teaching entails. So when her escape hatch -- marriage to a wealthy, opera-loving mama's boy -- suddenly closes and she actually has to keep working, Elizabeth decides that she needs breast implants to snag her next man. But first she has to get through another schoolyear and raise the money for surgery ... or maybe she just needs to reel in the new substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake), whose family is linked to a wealthy watchmaking company. It won't be easy, though: Uber-teacher Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch) is on to her (and is after the sub, too), and the charming gym teacher (Jason Segel) sees right through her.

Is it any good?

BAD TEACHER has some laughs, but it feels more like a tepid substitute than anything else, despite a fully committed -- and sometimes winning -- performance from Diaz. What's the problem? First, the characters. Though Diaz's Elizabeth has some laugh-out-loud lines, she's not exactly someone you'd want to root for, so why should audiences care what happens to her? Her antagonist is a goody-two-shoes colleague; Punch plays her well enough, but you pity the character too much to wish for her comeuppance.


As for who Elizabeth will end up with, does it really matter? We don't quite buy her evolution and don't think much of her romantic options. The side plots, though zany, don't amount to much, either. In fact, the entire enterprise feels more like an extended Saturday Night Live sketch (and many of the actors have, in fact, appeared on the show) than anything else.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the main character is portrayed. Is she worth rooting for? Why or why not? Do characters have to be "good" to be heroes/heroines?

  • What kind of message is the movie sending about consequences and character? Do people like Elizabeth succeed in real life?

  • Discuss how the drug references are handled in the movie. Are the characters who use drugs glamorized or portrayed as troubled? Which is more realistic?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love to laugh

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate