Posts Tagged ‘ comedy ’

Bad Teacher

Bad Teacher, 2011, USA

By Andrew Burns

I thought long and hard for something funny or witty to open this review but this flick just sucked all the humour out of me.  You might think with some top notch comedic talents in the credits this movie would be good for a chuckle or two.  Sadly no, barely even a smirk.

Ok so before I rip into this attempt at a comedy I’ll give a quick rundown of the premise.  Cameron Diaz plays the world’s worst seventh grade middle school teacher, Elizabeth Halsey.  No that’s too specific, she plays the world’s teacher.  Elizabeth is about to quit teaching for good as she is about to marry into a huge inheritance when her groom to be calls it off.  Thinking the best way to find another loaded smuck to marry for his money Elizabeth decides all she needs is to get herself a boob job.  Elizabeth goes back to teaching to save up for her implants and when that isn’t enough she rips off and uses her students to turn a profit.  One fellow teacher catches on to Elizabeth and the two secretly feud back and forth.

Most viewers are going to have a hard time swallowing the terrible messages Bad Teacher has in it.  Diaz’s character has zero redeemable qualities to her so not once would anyone watching this flick root for her.  Elizabeth lies, cheats, steals, back-mails, embezzles, and even drugs people to get what she wants and then in the end she actually does.  Meaning if you walk all over people, and then stab them in the back, happy endings do come true.  To be perfectly honest none of that stuff mattered to me.  I could care less if I didn’t want to root for the main character because she is an awful person.  It was almost refreshing to see a cruel character not do a 180 with their personality after some kind of epiphany in the movie’s third act.  Almost.

No it wasn’t the film’s poor life messages I had a problem with, it was the comedy.  I never found Diaz’s whole reckless bad teacher act funny but I figured some of the other cast members would shed comedic light on this film.  After all, Diaz co-stars with the very funny and hugely popular Jason Segal, arguably one of the funniest SNL host in recent years in Justin Timberlake, and the always hilarious John Michael Higgins.  Yet nothing but some mildly humorous moments scattered too far apart to string together any laughs.  Now a days studios rarely put this many big names into a rated R comedy in fear that it might limited their potential audience.  When this does happen actors and filmmakers normally take advantage of the ability to use of crude and vulgar language and/or situations, but here every bit of talent is wasted on a couple F-bombs and a pair of fake beasts.

If I had to say one good thing about this movie I’d say it’s only 90 minutes long.  Even that being said that’s still 90 minutes I’ll never get back.  I went into this movie with low expectations because I’m not that much of a Diaz fan but I did expect some funny considering her cast mates.  Segal is probably the best thing about this movie and he is only on screen for about 5-10 minutes total, so that right there tells you something.  Whatever laughs you think you might get out of this movie, I assure you just watching the trailer will give you the same results.  Blaming the writing or direction seems unfair so I’ll just blame the movie as a whole.

0.5 / 5 Stars

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Sabah

Sabah, 2005, Canada

By Jennifer Hanson

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On paper, this film sounded awesome. It’s a Canadian romantic comedy about a 40-something Muslim woman (Arsinée Khanjian) who meets a Canadian man named Stephen (Shawn Doyle), and they fall in love. However, their relationship must remain secret, as Sabah has an overbearing older brother named Majid (Jeff Seymour), and must care for her ailing mother (Setta Keshishian).

Unfortunately, “on paper” and “on film” are very different things. The film is very awkward, and I don’t necessarily blame the actors for the awkwardness. I just felt uncomfortable as I watched it. I think it’s because Sabah is a very awkward character, and the actions of so many of the characters felt unrealistic. The love story between Sabah and Stephen was sweet, but there was very little substance to it. The characterization of the supporting characters is limited, as well. Majid is written as the villain, but his actions are so drenched in stereotypes that it is actually offensive. For a film that is presumably supposed to fight stereotypes, it is not good to have a storyline that depends on a very offensive stereotype. We’re given no reason for these actions until the very end of the movie.

In addition to all of this, we’re given a deus ex machine happy ending that feels unnatural and tacked on. We’re never shown how the issues are resolved, other than an extremely brief scene prior to the ending. An extra few minutes would have removed the awkwardness of the ending. Every storyline is resolved in an overly happy, awkward and unnatural way, which is typical in romantic comedies. I was hoping Ruba Nadda would go in a different direction with her film.

Nadda is an Arab-Canadian director and writer, and many of her other films look at life in Arab families. Seeing “normal” Arab or Muslim families in film productions is relatively rare, so that is why I was so eager to watch this film. It is truly a shame that Nadda felt the need to create such a stereotypical character when she created Majid. I fear that his character may confirm the prejudices that some people feel towards Muslim individuals. However, I did admire the way she approached the topic of inter-racial and inter-religious relationships. I felt that the apprehension Sabah felt towards her relationship was an accurate portrayal of what someone may feel in her situation.

The film was obviously a low budget production, and it was shot in only 20 days. It was shot well and I also respect what she accomplished in such a short period of time.

Sabah was a bit of a disappointment. It was thought-provoking for all of the wrong reasons, and relied far too much on stereotypes and clichés. It’s such a shame, because this film had every opportunity to be fantastic.

2/5