**1/2 (out of four)
It’s a good thing seventh graders aren’t that eager to learn: Their teacher, Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz), would rather smoke a bowl or embezzle money from an Illinois school to finance her planned breast enhancement. Also a priority for this foul-mouthed, unabashed gold digger: Keeping a rich substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake) away from an overachieving colleague (Lucy Punch) and deflecting the advances of a gym teacher (Jason Segel) because, well, he’s a gym teacher.
The buzz: Yes, yes, Diaz and Timberlake used to date. Whatever. “Bad Teacher” could be a chance for “The Office” writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg to atone for their obnoxious “Year One.” Or it could be “Bad Santa” meets “School of Rock” or something.
The verdict: Surprisingly likable for a movie populated exclusively by idiots and jerks. Is “Bad Teacher” a choppy mess of inconsistent characters and repulsive-but-not-quite-outrageous behavior? Or a sexy, funny collection of one-liners delivered by people who know how to keep rudeness from becoming cruel? It’s both. Luckily Diaz spikes the nastiness with truth because, hey, some kids just don’t learn from basic, generic lessons. To bluntly honest, amusing-enough ends, the quotable, forgettable “Bad Teacher” is less “Work hard and be yourself” than “If you want that girl to notice you, stop wearing that stupid sweatshirt, beyotch.”
Did you know? Elizabeth claims to have spent the summer partying at the bars near where the Bulls practice. I mean no disrespect to my hometown of Deerfield when I say I don’t think Berto Center-convenient spots are this gal’s speed.
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