I waited an extra hour to see Bad Teacher because my intended movie time sold out.  People packed the theater at the next showing, too, and throngs of women of all ages came in gaggles and with their men in tow.  The flick had a lot going for it: recently, Bridesmaids introduced the possibility of a good female comedy; the teacher theme appealed to a very female-oriented industry and previews promised a great cast with dirty humor and a female star that could be all at once beautiful, bad and funny.  However, an hour and a half later, with outbursts of laughter few and far between, we all walked out disappointed.  So, where did Bad Teacher go wrong?
  1. Poor comedic timing and chemistry: Scenes meant to be funny turned out awkward and stale.  The entire movie tries too hard.
  2. Bad behavior is not funny in and of itself: Great comedies about drinking, drugs and vulgarity do exist, but this is not one of them.  We are expected to laugh at Cameron Diaz smoking pot, getting drunk, swearing, talking about sex, eating junk food, and being a slob without any other punchlines because she is an attractive, blond woman who should be shopping, working out and eating salads.  I think the writers thought that was funny enough.
  3. Misleadingly advertised as a female comedy for women: One reason women dig Bridesmaids is because the fresh, honest humor and plot are relatable.  I don’t think many women relate to the stereotypical humor about gold digging and buying boobs in Bad Teacher.  Bridesmaids was also actually written by women, and Bad Teacher is not, which is why we see Diaz grope another woman’s breasts and straddle a car during a car wash.  Once again, we’re watching this character’s story through a male lens.
We are still waiting for a steady flow of great comedies with strong female stars and writing.  Until then, we can buy tickets to the morsels of great female flicks and support organizations like Women in Film.  Evolving pop culture is important in supporting gender equality because those images and voices have a long reach and enormous influence on our perceptions of others.  But it takes more than a few good movies.
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