|One of the women in this picture is going to make out with|
a guy in this scene. Oddly enough, it's not the blonde.
"Hold my ball sack."
1) I'll admit it--any film that starts off with the Nick Lowe/Dave Edmunds super group Rockpile doing 'Teacher, Teacher' over stock footage of, you know, teachers, gets some points right off the bat.
2) I really hope that one of these days, someone will recognize how extremely talented and charismatic Jason Segal is. He's not just charismatic, he's movie-star charismatic, the kind of guy I'd watch over Seth Rogan any day. His character has all the best lines, and his very presence makes a scene better.
3) Unlike with many films I've seen lately, this movie actually gets better once it hits the halfway mark...but since we've spent the first half of the movie wandering around aimlessly watching Cameron Diaz act hung over, smoke pot and obsess over fake boobs, the audience may already have lost interest.
4) Oddly enough, I sort of appreciate that this film has something of a message about positive body image--although (and this is going to be a recurring statement with regard to this film) the final decision Diaz' Elizabeth comes to about her body could've been developed more gradually and not just seem to come out of left field because she realizes the guy she should be with likes her for who she is.
|One of these actors has outstanding chemistry with Cameron|
Diaz. Oddly enough, it's not the guy she lives with...
5) Similarly, I appreciate that the script by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg deals head on with Elizabeth's inability to be a good teacher...so the ending I feared with her deciding she liked being a teacher and excelling is replaced instead with one where she takes on a more appropriate position at the school. That other ending makes a hell of a lot more sense when it comes to her character arc.
6) Justin Timberlake's Scott proves to be a very, very strange character--which wouldn't be so bad if we got more of a sense of how bizarre he really is earlier than the third act. There are things he does during that act's field trip (a scene in particular comes off as contrived, as it comes after a moment where Segal's Russell exposes Scott's peculiar social tick to Elizabeth), and after the film's nemesis gets her comeuppance which only make sense because The Script Wants It To Happen.
7) And speaking of Scott...this is a film that actually works less when it indulges in gross-out humor. I'm sorry, but dwelling on Justin Timberlake's semen-stained jeans isn't funny; it's just...weird and off-putting.
8) While the ultimate resolution of Elizabeth's story arc is 100% the right one (and the script is very courageous for refusing to give her a 'change of heart' moment while also giving us a reason to realize where her true talents lie), I think they needed to spend a little more time showing us her true talent. Yes, the interactions she has with Matthew J. Evans' Garrett shows us she does have something to bring to the table--but maybe if the script showed her inteacting with another student in a similar way, even for a second, her story arc would be stronger.
|Leave your best Whitesnake joke in the comments section...|
9) Should I be ashamed that I kept thinking Phyllis Smith, who plays Elizabeth's sidekick Lynn, was actually Molly Shannon (who does have a small role as Garrett's mother), and kept wondering when Shannon decided to eat the other members of her Saturday Night Live cast? And should I be more ashamed because Smith is one of a number of character actors (I'd also cite Joseph Michael , Eric Stonestreet and David Paymer) who really are at the top of their game and excel in their roles?
10) There are moments--especially during the field trip sequence--where I wondered of the scriptwriters hadn't watched Billy Madison one too many times. I mean, guys...if you're going to rip off an Adam Sandler film, why not Happy Gilmore, which still ranks as Sandler's best.
Overall...a decent comedy that, quite frankly, is damaged by its very, very slow start...a start so slow that it unbalances the rest of the film and makes its last half hour or so a mad rush to the finish line. Still, good performances manage to make this maaaaaybe Netflix worthy.
Back to the Atlas, who still seem to show an inability to run its show without a hitch--this was the third time that the entirety of the Firstlook was without video (but on the plus side, that meant I didn't have to see the 'special sneak peek' of The Smurfs, so....). The trailers contained some comedies, only one of which (What's Your Number?) I might see solely because I can see the natural charm and charisma of Anna Farris and Chris Evans elevating the otherwise stinky story, and the latest in Jason Statham's attempts to blandify every hardcore action film I remember from my childhood, The Killer Elite...except there's something about the look of the film, and the unlikely presence of Robert deNiro apparently kicking ass with the best of them, might make me see it.