Bad Teacher

The Times 2 on Tuesday 14 June had a really interesting piece about women in film and a fascinating analysis called The Bechdel Test.

A movie passes if:

1. It has at least two women in it with names
2. Who to talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

Sadly, my weekend film trips were less than high-brow and first up was Bad Teacher, featuring Cameron Diaz. Based, not just on this litmus test, it failed.

Firstly, I’m not sure who this film is aimed at?

The car-wash and cosmetic surgery scenes are clearly there for the boys (I don’t ever need to see 34DD’s 6ft high on screen again) but they weren’t supposed to be funny. At least I don’t think so.

So what’s in it for the girls? Slapstick petty revenge (poison ivy apples) and one-liners which couldn’t cut butter. Not brilliant. Justin Timberlake (who has proved to have comic appeal on SNL in the states) and Lucy Punch do a good job at being the bumbling side-kicks to Cameron’s straight ‘guy’, but nothing was LOL.

Maybe, I’ve missed the point and Jake Kasdan (director) is taking a very post-feminist view where there is no male/ female audience in comedy anymore and that humour is really something about recognition regardless of your sex. Something which many stand-up comedians have said before. If you identify with the situation, you laugh.

So, that’s the problem.

Diaz does a good job as Elizabeth but I didn’t identify with her because she was such a flimsy, 1 dimensional character. Why’s she so money hungry? How on earth did she end up as a teacher? How did she almost marry a billionaire?! Some kind of autobiographical-montage would have been welcome.

But no. It’s got to be wide open and vague.

Rumour is this script did the rounds in Hollywood before Diaz agreed. Studio’s, I suspect, like to keep scripts like this as vague as possible so they can create a cheap romcom by numbers – any available leading lady could fit the bill (Anniston, Moore, Heigl, Roberts) and that’s why it can’t be specific.

Hollywood finally woke up to the idea of female directors (there were three on the panel at Canne this year) so maybe they should wake up to the idea of female comedy writers. Tina Fey has shown through SNL and five brilliant seasons of 30 Rock that women writers are hilarious and snapping at her heels is fellow SNL stalwart Kirsten Wiig with hotly anticipated ‘Bridesmaid’s’. Rumour is she wrote it in six days (having previously not written anything longer than an SNL skit before) and it’s already grossed millions at the box office. Can’t wait.

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