Cameron Diaz and Phyllis Smith in "Bad Teacher"
Credit: Sony Pictures
In “Bad Teacher,” Cameron Diaz plays a pot-smoking, booze-guzzling, man-eating borderline sociopath. She breaks laws, hurls dodgeballs at 7th graders’ crotches and is generally mean to anyone who can’t do something for her. Clearly, Diaz isn’t taking a big step forward for womankind here, is she?
I wouldn’t go that far, no. I haven’t lost my friggin’ mind. But if we’re looking at “Bad Teacher” from the lowered expectations we have for most entertainment these days, there might be a silver lining in there somewhere once we sift out the adolescent humor, sex shtick and Justin Timberlake
. Except for the annoying female-centric cliché of being a golddigger, Elizabeth (Diaz’s character) could easily be played by a guy. The current trend seems to be (if the superior “Bridesmaids” is also an indicator) to show that the girls can be just as gross, crass and poorly behaved as the fellas. Yes, we too can crap in bathroom sinks and get baked in our cars if we are so inclined. Yay.
Is that a huge step forward? Okay, a little step forward? Maybe a shimmy to the side? While Diaz’s “Bad Teacher” character never really evolves beyond thuggishness (take her out-of-nowhere evolution in the third act as you will), she’s just as one note as all the vacant girlfriend characters, hot-to-trot sidekicks and goody-to-shoe love interests we usually see in Hollywood. And, while the guys certainly have it better, let’s not forget how many of them we see, overly pumped and ridiculously suited up, as cartoon character heroes. Nuance and depth are in short supply for everyone, male and female, in Hollywood. Ironically, we saw both in “Bridesmaids,” that other gross-out girl flick.
So, are girls who can be just as nasty as the boys a trend we should get behind? To the extent that money talks in Hollywood, maybe. Since “Bridesmaids” scored a better-than-expected opening weekend (coming in at number two behind the quickly forgotten “Thor”) and has grossed over $100 million in the U.S., executives are likely to be looking to “Bad Teacher” to see if audiences have an appetite for funny ladies who aren’t too ladylike. And if they do? While that will likely open the door to plenty of bad movies with “bad” female protagonists, the point is it will open the door to more roles for women showing a side that hasn’t become cliché. Granted, it’s the gross side, but so be it. I’ll just be happy to see something other than simpering goody-goody or the Spandex-clad sex kitten. And if she happens to be crapping into a sink, so be it.