WARNING: Spoiler alert. The following discussion may “spoil” “Bad Teacher.” And may spoil films such as “Scrooge,” “A Christmas Carol,” and “Rocky” which are referred to in this discussion.
While I’ve often thought I’d be an excellent movie reviewer, I also believe that being a writer and an actor, constantly aspiring to get to the next level, no matter what that may be, the last thing I should do is criticize other people’s work. For after all, how many actors does it take to screw in a light bulb? Right? Right?
For those of you that don’t know it… The answer is ten… One to screw it in… And nine to sit there saying they could have done it better.
So, this isn’t a review, or a criticism, but more of a discussion of comeuppance, and if you don’t know the term, you know exactly what I’m talking about, as you’ve seen it on screen and on stage, and have heard it in stories all your life. It’s the Big Bad Wolf being boiled in a pot of water.
Well, here’s a spoiler, “Bad Teacher” has no comeuppance for the main character that I can see… she swears, gives bad advice, lies, does drugs in front of kids, wipes poison ivy on someone’s food, drives reckless, manipulates, uses sex, puts people in harm’s way, steals from kids, steals from a generous giving family… she does so many horrific things, many mostly for… wait for it… getting a big pair of FAKE BOOBS.
And, it’s not because she had breast cancer, or because she’s got a negative self image… She thinks she’s hot, knows she’s hot… It’s simply so she can TRAP and MANIPULATE some rich douche-bag, so she can spend his money and not have to contribute to society.
Now while you may point out that there was at one point of the film a fear of her getting her comeuppance, I would argue that that was only for the audience, as the main character was never out of control, as she had taken blackmail photos ahead of time (unknown to us).
Yes, except for perhaps a few minutes into the film, when her finance was convinced by his mother to dump the rotten seeded tomato… But even then, Diaz’s character didn’t fall very far… Or if she did fall far, she didn’t fall further than where most American’s live day to day… She had a car, which wasn’t too horrific… And she got her job back, which wasn’t too horrific (teaching in an affluent safe school)… I suppose the most “horrific” thing was that she had to live with a “craigslist roommate,” but even he wasn’t all that bad… He seemed to stay out of her way, and even offered to help her at times.
The reason for this discussion is that the person I watched the DVD with, actually liked and rooted for the main character, and hated the antagonist… And I felt pretty much the exact opposite… I do feel that the antagonist, Lucy Punch’s character, the overly goofy and supportive rival teacher, was played or written or directed to be a bit too obnoxious… And personally I feel that the character may have had more impact if she were played non-malicious, non-manipulative, straight-forward and honest… But I didn’t write it, play it or direct it… And it’s the story by the people that contributed to it, NOT my story.
One could argue that Diaz’s character did however change in the last minutes of the film… But I’m not sure that’s true either. She turned down a rich guy, for reasons I’m not sure of, the only one that was semi-obvious was that he wasn’t good in bed… She got the gym teacher, because perhaps he challenged her, or he was too superficial to care that she was superficial… And she became a guidance counselor at the school, instead of being a teacher, which is possibly the worst possible scenario imaginable, but I suppose sets up an even more nightmarish sequel.
Here’s the discussion part…
If you saw it.
Did you like it?
Did you root for the main character?
Were you happy that Lucy’s character was continually on the losing end?
When she got posion ivy all over her face?
When she was busted for having drugs she didn’t know were there?
When she got transferred to a difficult school after 7 outstanding years of teaching at one school?
Or were you more like me?
Wanting to see the main character either fall far and then watch her recover, to become what I personally is a better human being?
Or watch her fall at the end, only to realize that her ways were indeed wrong, and that her karma created it?
For even Scrooge, as unsympathetic as he is, throughout the story he isn’t in control… He’s scared by ghosts. He’s made to see the errors of his ways. We see what caused his heart to shrink. And at the end, he makes wild amends.
Let me know what you think… It’s good that movies don’t all follow formulas… I love that when it’s done well. It’s good that we can’t predict everything that happens in them based on watching a watch… However, are you more satisfied when certain dramatic elements are achieved?
For even when Rocky loses at the end… He really doesn’t. Really really wins. He won love. He won respect. He won fame. He won self-worth.
Here’s a poll, but I’d actually also like to hear your thoughts in the comment section below… It can only help as I create, write and tell more stories…
By the way, both of us thought Phyllis Smith and many of the cast members gave awesome comic performances.