CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: Cameron Diaz Commits Sin of Boredom in ‘Bad Teacher’
CHICAGO – If you’re going to be bad, be bad. But this is mainstream Hollywood “product,” starring Cameron Diaz, and while the concept of the new film “Bad Teacher” had promise, it eventually fell down on the weight of happy resolutions and the worse mortal sin for a comedy…it was dull.
Director Jake Kasdan, who has been much more interesting in previous films (”Zero Effect,” “Orange County,” “The TV Set”) gets bogged down with a passive aggressive script, by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, and wastes a pretty talented comic cast. The ensemble gamely tries to deliver some wooden material and despite some individual moments, can’t deliver the overall goodness of the “badness.”
Cameron Diaz is middle school teacher Elizabeth Halsey, who is leaving her job at the John Adams academy, somewhere in Illinois (near Chicago, but never spelled out). She is off to marry her rich fiancé and live the glamorous life she thinks she deserves. Her happiness turns to shock when her sugar daddy dumps her, and the former teacher is now forced to go back to John Adams with no prospects, except the weak notion that if she gets a boob job the right rich guy will come her way.
Elizabeth hates her teaching life now, especially since she is right across the hall from super-educator Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch) and can’t relate to fellow teachers Lynn (Phyllis Smith from TV’s “The Office”) and Russell (Jason Segel). The tide turns a bit when a new substitute named Scott (Justin Timberlake) is revealed to be from a wealthy family. Elizabeth and Amy suddenly become rivals for the same man, and the situation escalates when the bad teacher seems to be losing out to the good teacher.
As the academic year rolls along, Elizabeth keeps saving for her plastic surgery, the randy gym teacher Russell keeps pining after her charms and Principal Wally Snur (John Michael Higgins) struggles to make sense of it all. To misquote Bill Murray from “Tootsie,” that is one nutty schoolhouse.
Photo credit: Gemma Lamana for Columbia Pictures