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« 'Best Shot' Awards - Season 5 Wraps | Main | A Year with Kate: The Lion in Winter (1968) »
Thursday
Sep042014

The Three R's with Cameron Diaz in 'Bad Teacher'

Rudeness.

Raciness.

No Respect.

Glenn here to help you guys ease back into the school year with the help of Cameron Diaz as Miss Halsey in Bad Teacher. Lord know we could have all used a teacher like her in those first few days, watching movies and napping.

Anyone seen Stand and Deliver? Show of hands. You kidding me? Edward James Olmos? Lou Diamond Phillips?

For as hilarious as I find this film - yes, I know it's a minority opinion, but I guffaw wildly and it's surprisingly rewatchable - nothing quite beats the moment when Diaz enters the building she thought she'd escaped forever and remembers the hell that is being a middle school teacher (or, in her case, any teacher at all). You and me both, Cam.

There's only so many times swearing and cursing can be funny (hell, kids-say-the-darndest-things style of humor was played out years before Bad Teacher came along) and I think the film is actually rather smart in focusing a lot of its energy on visual gags like this one, or others mostly revolving around Cameron Diaz's wonderfully expressive face and body language. 

Sadly, in one of those rare instances of the Golden Globes having a great performance by a big star in a huge box office smash to choose from, they glanced right over Diaz's return to the (sorta) A list. Instead they chose the two women from Carnage and Michelle Williams from the laugh riot singalong My Week with Marilyn (who won). I'm not going to complain about Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids. That's still fantastic. Still, being in a critically lambasted movie has never stopped them before and Diaz's work here is truly committed and gutsy stuff.

Was it that Diaz was too... caustic? I really have to say that in spite of the hit-and-miss quality of the movies she has appeared in lately, Diaz has to my mind become one of the most fearless actors out there. Say what you will about the film or her performance, but Diaz in The Counsellor sure was something that's hard to forget. Her performance in Annie looks like a ridiculous mess, but one I'm fascinated to watch unfold. And as for Knight & Day? Well, I'm not sure I've seen a performer is recent years attempt to make a character that unlikable in a way that wasn't already on the page, somehow elevating the film to a strange form of performance art on her behalf.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there's little message to really be learnt from Bad Teacher. Except maybe to follow Diaz's lead. No, don't be rude, racy and disrespectful. Rather, be fearless and don't put up with the crap. And before you go...

Please help yourself to some delicious snacks and drinks in the back.

Did you have a bad teacher? And what do you think of the Cameron Diaz of the '10s? Fearless or frightening?

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Reader Comments (15)

I'm always on Team Cameron. Even in her most cringe-worthy films, she is always totally watchable, fascinating even.

What Happens in Vegas might be the exception. She phoned in that one.

September 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJS

Oh yes, this is one of my guilty pleasure movies! Maybe suffers from too much Justin Timberlake, who isn't as funny as he thinks he is.

September 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

I will co-sign with JS as someone else who always roots for Cameron Diaz. One thing that no one can deny is her fearless commitment to her roles, even when her acting choices don't make the most sense, and when the movies are bad, she's typically the best thing about them. If she plays her cards right, I can totally see her winning a supporting (career) Oscar within the next ten years, but she needs to go back to working with better directors.

September 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

say what you will but I think she really goes for broke in SEX TAPE, not many actresses out there who will do the physical kinda comedy she does. Maybe Melissa McCarthy but not many.

I also enjoyed THE OTHER WOMAN. Something is totally watchable about her no matter what the material..

September 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I don't know why it gets such a bad rep, because it's not great, but it's not *that* bad. It is surprisingly watchable.

(And I'm becoming more of a Cameron defender each passing day.)

September 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKacey

I love this movie. I have seen it three times, and roar with laughter everytime. She has such timing with this dialogue, and nobody gesticulates with such profane genius. Cameron is just an innately funny and LIKABLE actress. She is at the top of her game in Bad Teacher.

BUT I have a very bad feeling about Annie. Why, oh why did they cast her? This is so wrong. Jane Lynch, I am so sorry--this shoulda been yours.

September 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

It would be great if she got to play more interesting characters like Lotte in Being John Malkovich, but given how many other, better actresses have trouble finding any parts other than stock supporting wife/mom/district attorney roles, it's hard to feel too sorry for her. After all, she's still headlining movies after 20 years in the business and earning gazillions of dollars, even if those movies range from kind of watchable to flat out terrible.

And I'll co-sign what Marsha Mason said about Timberlake.

September 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJan

I wouldn't mind if Jane Lynch never worked again. Her smugness is so grating, and that deadpan nasty shtick played out years ago. Plus, she's parlayed her acclaim into this self-satisfied, insider-y offscreen persona (she's working as a presenter these days). I wish someone would just tell her "You're not Ellen Degeneres, Elaine Stritch, Carol Burnett, or Candice Bergen. You are supremely less interesting, less great, and more limited." Jane Lynch is the Modern Family of actresses. Just enough.

I'd've cast Elizabeth Perkins.

September 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W

I liked Cameron in Bad Teacher, but that the Globes didn't give her a nom is not that surprising. At least not for me.

My math teacher once was really mean. But damn, he was so funny at the same time.
Like "Rain forest? F*ck them! There's no hope for them. We don't need rain forests, we need more paper!"

September 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

Hayden, I think Jane is an actress of enormous talent, warmth and presence. Even as Glee glided on fumes into an oil derrick, she rose to the occasion in that school shooting episode, giving us a conflicted person who made the tough, controversial call--even as that is what she did successfully in her performance. She believably brought a shocking new dimension to this gargoyle and deserved her Emmy nom. I don't know of any other actress who could have played such a hateful character and still be so popular with the audience. She should be getting juicer roles. And if, as you wish, she never worked again, her work in the Christopher Guest films would prove a worthy legacy.

I'll grant you she is basking in a warm glow of celebrity, especially on Hollywood Game Night. But I don't see anything wrong with publicly appreciating your success, as long as you keep being gracious, which I believe she is. I think she wears it well.

September 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

She's endured as a movie star for a very long time, that is something to celebrate alone.

September 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

That is a pretty funny film as I think Cameron Diaz was really funny in that one. Justin Timberlake was the weakest element in that film where he didn't really get the chance to be funny or be anything.

September 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

I also think Bad Teacher is funny and easy to rewatch, even though everyone seems to hate it. cameron Diaz deserved a Golden Globe nomination for this one (they even nominated her for Gangs of New York). It's cool to find someone who appreciates it to.

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJorge

Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann are both fantastic in The Other Woman.

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Mai

Diaz is way underrated, and "Bad Teacher"--though it suffers from an erratic script and all-over-the--place tone and direction--gives her one of her best comedic workouts. She's completely fearless in the role, and you wish that the rest of the movie was as brave and edgy as she was.

September 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDback

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