We’ve seen Cameron Diaz be lovable, bubbly, cute, pretty, adorable, and in most of her roles, all of those at once. I am not a huge Cameron Diaz fan. I loved her in The Mask, but did she carry the movie? No. However I love love love love LOVE it when she plays a selfish bitch. I loved it in In Her Shoes and I loved it in this movie.
Our heroine, Elizabeth Halsey, starts out as a alcohol-swilling, weed smoking gold-digger who also teaches middle school. The first scene of the movie is her leaving her teaching job because she’s getting married! But when she gets home, surprise! Her fiance and his mother are ambushing her about how much of their money she spends! After failing a one question relationship test Ms.Halsey is quite suddenly and very unexpectedly off the marital track. She ends up back in her old position at the school she smugly left a few weeks before.
After a few scenes to show how many fucks she does not give about teaching (showing movies, drinking in class, sleeping, ignoring all children, etc.) we get introduced to a new staff member! Justin Timberlake! Oh hi! Whenever I see him in a movie I feel like what men probably felt like in the 90’s when they saw Michael Jordan playing baseball. Go back to what you’re best at! Do the thing you’re phenomenally better than everybody else at, not the thing you’re just okay at! JT is okay in this movie, although there was a pretty graphic dry humping scene that made up for the rest of his performance. He dry humps to completion. In jeans. It was pretty painful to watch.
Elizabeth Halsey & all the other female teachers are immediately smitten with JT despite him being a dumb dumb. There’s an entertaining conversation where the class goes on a trip to a historical village and JT goes on for about seven minutes about how much he hates slavery. I hate slavery just as much as the next person and I gotta say you’re not exactly re-inventing the conversational wheel by denouncing it vehemently. I think everyone this side of the 1800’s (we can only hope!) is on board with hating slavery.
Also in this mix is Jason Segel- he’s the funny gym teacher who has a thing for Elizabeth but who’s too cool to push it so he just lays in wait and makes fun of JT. It’s a good move, it works out for him in the end.
Phyllis from The Office (Phyllis Smith) is in here too!!! She’s wonderful as a cautious goodie-two-shoes who spends the entire movie torn between her own impulses (go to work meetings, eat salad slowly) and Ms. Halsey’s directives (don’t go to work meetings, sexually proposition aging cowboys). They aren’t friends but aren’t enemies either. That role is reserved for rival teacher Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch). Amy is an overzealous know-it-all whose favorite book is Eat Pray Love and whose favorite part of that book was, “the love part.” Lol. I LOVE this actress- she was one of the evil stepsisters in Ella Enchanted (and if you’re really up to date on your early 2000 television miniseries’ she was the thieving shepherdess in The 10th Kingdom!!). She’s so great and so funny and so believably insane. She does the entire second half of the movie with poison ivy of the face. If that’s not talent I don’t know what is!
One of my favorite things about this movie was Cameron Diaz’s makeup. Her mascara and eyeshadow and lipstick were so messy I concluded she didn’t have a makeup artist, I think they let her do it as a gritty indie cred thing. “Yeah Cameron, do your own makeup. It’ll bring more authenticity to the role.” All about it. It looked SO SMUDGED all the times!!! One of my movie pet peeves is how makeup is always perfect. In Zero Dark Thirty when Jessica Chastain was literally in the middle of a torture camp in the desert, she somehow managed to always have mascara on. It’s ALWAYS like that and it’s so annoying. Women will be doing the most grueling shit in a movie ever, yet they still have gorgeous makeup. In this movie there’s a whole scene where Cameron has red lipstick on her top lip but not her bottom one. That’s what I’m talking about!!
I forgot to mention the biggest plot point of the movie: Cameron Diaz’s character is trying to get fake boobs. She’s trying to save up enough money to have another person cut her chest open and fill it with synthetic plastic. I know it sounds like I’m being judgmental, and I don’t ever want to be that person who judges other people’s choices like I’m some high and mighty arbiter of good decisions. I’m definitely not! But this was a lil odd of a motivation for the main character to have. Not because it’s inherently wrong (fake boobs for everyone!) but because I feel like it was said during a brainstorm “Oh what if she’s trying to save money to get a boob job?” and it got a lot of laughs so people just went with it and never challenged whether it would fit/work with the movie as a whole.
See, it needs to be strong because this motivation fuels the entire shift in the movie and her character. She’s trying to get money for a boob job and there’s a 5700 bonus for the teacher of the best performing class, so she starts really teaching them, but that’s not enough so she steals the state answers in an elaborate identity swap/sex/roofie scheme, blah blah blah. It’s so much. She does so much shit for these fake boobs. And we know she thinks she’s really hot, so it’s like, why do you want these boobs so bad? Eventually we get somewhere good but it takes too long and it feels a little irrelevant. There’s a pretty predictable sexy carwash scene and lotso drug humor about how good weed is (a crutch to get teens to like your movie).
The tagline for this movie is, “She doesn’t give an ‘F.” (See what you did there) And she really doesn’t. The clothes she wears to go to work in a middle school are crazy! I’m talking sheer white tops with black bras (that sometimes she’ll remove if the situation calls for it: if one of her male students needs a bra), short skirts, daisy dukes, a plaid belly shirt, stilettos everyday, skintight black leather pants, etc etc etc. The fact that no one talked to her about her outfits was unrealistic. Also there was a continuity error involving a corn dog but i suppose these things are minor.
What else is there to say?? It’s a fun little nothing movie that I’d wanted to see for a while and now that I did I probably never will again. Life is so short! Everyone dies alone and that’s not scary! I love movies!