There is a subgenre of comedy which draws much of its humor from shock value. Here, films have the audience laughing at the same time they think to themselves, "No way, they did not just say that." Of course, the characters have in fact said exactly that, but all too often without repercussions. The trick when making such a film is to be able to string together these humorous moments into a larger tapestry that one will actually want to watch and, if we're really lucky, truly enjoy.
The Jake Kasdan directed, Cameron Diaz starring, Bad Teacher doesn't quite make it. To be sure, the film has plenty of funny moments in it and if crude humor is your thing you'll find yourself chuckling repeatedly, but it is unable to turn these moments into something more.
In the film, Diaz plays a teacher, Elizabeth Halsey, who has no desire to teach. No, her only wish is to find a rich husband who will take care of her for the rest of her life. She actually has someone to fit the bill at the start of the movie, but he wises up and ruins her plans, forcing her—horror of horrors—to teach for another school year.
What had been a one year job threatens to turn into a career, and Elizabeth is forced to associate with the fellow teachers she shunned during her first year . These include Lucy Punch's Amy Squirrel, who rapidly grows to hate Elizabeth and Phyllis Smith's Lynn Davies, who, beyond being relatively meek and a teacher, isn't given much of a character at all.
There is also Jason Segel's Russell Gettis, who, well, one can't ever quite figure out why he's a teacher. There is a scene in which he mentions that his life didn't turn out as planned, but that's as close as the film gets to an explanation.
You see, one of the places the film falls down is its desire to not actually tell us about anyone. Why does Elizabeth choose to keep teaching if her desire is to find a rich husband? Surely she could find a profession more suitable for that. Maybe though the school she works at has a high preponderance of single wealthy fathers. The could be, but it's never stated, it's never even hinted at. It is also never made clear why this woman who looks far closer to 40 than 25 is just now looking for a husband and how she spent her life prior to her starting to teach (which is clearly a relatively new profession for her). I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong in starting a search at that age, just that for someone who is so gung-ho about it, the notion that it hasn't come up sooner is a little weird.