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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
For kids who love to laugh
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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.