When Bridesmaids came out in May, many heralded the female-centric flick as a turning point for women in comedy: It appealed to both sexes, and let its female stars go to raunchy new lows for laughs — just like the boys. This weekend, another down-and-dirty comedy anchored by a woman opens: In Bad Teacher, Cameron Diaz plays a largely unredeemable, gold-digging teacher who gives sexy car washes and yearns for a boob job. At first glance, it hardly seems to be a stereotype-busting, female empowerment flick. And yet, some critics are saying it's just as "revolutionary" as Bridemaids, perhaps even more so. Really? (Watch the trailer for the movie.)
Bad Teacher is even edgier than Bridesmaids: Bad Teacher isn't perfect, says Stephanie Zacharek at Movieline. "But in the context of every other comedy on the summer movie landscape — from the faux empowerment of Bridesmaids to the neurotic frat-guy heteromania of The Hangover Part II — it feels revolutionary." It wasn't enough for Bridesmaids' Kristen Wiig to be funny and crude. She also had to be a lovable, pathetic loser. Here, Diaz plays a barely likable character, and refuses to ingratiate herself with the audience, new ground for a woman in a summer flick.
"REVIEW: Cameron Diaz slinks to the head of the class in Bad Teacher"
Bad Teacher is on par with Bridesmaids: Finally, "Hollywood apparently thinks it's time for the ladies to get their hands and other parts dirty," says Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. Diaz is a tremendously gifted comedian who has often been mired in low-rent rom-coms like What Happens in Vegas. It's a pleasure to see her tap into her raunchy "inner thug" in Bad Teacher. And supporting players Lucy Punch and Phyllis Smith (The Office) also get to be funnier than the guys. Ultimately, it's the interaction between all the women that elevates Bad Teacher "into something more than the latest in big-screen giggles and flatulence."
"When the teacher gets high marks in the raunchy and the profane"
It's no Bridesmaids. But it's still alright: Bad Teacher "may not be a feminist masterpiece, or even a Bridesmaids, but it's hardly the worst of Hollywood's problems," says Daniel Walber at IndieWire. Diaz's character "isn't so much a one-dimensional stereotype of the manipulative bitch as she is a one-and-a-half-dimensional product of bad writing," which is more than you can say for many movies. At least the female characters aren't marginalized here. I wouldn't say Bad Teacher is "the kind of female-driven film that Hollywood so desperately needs," but I wouldn't call it "part of the problem" either.
"Bad Teacher is bad, but not necessarily bad for women"
It's no Bridesmaids. And it's pretty bad: "[As] Bridesmaids proved, lady-type-people are fully capable of raunchy comedy, so Diaz swearing like a stevedore and slinging her sexuality like a six-gun aren't particularly shocking," says Ann Hornaday in The Washington Post. But Bridesmaids was also "playful and even progressive," while Bad Teacher tries too hard to be nasty and borders on mean-spirited. It has its funny moments, but ultimately it's a "dull misfire" that blandly straddles the line between "subversive humor" and "lazy cynicism."