Kam On Film: ‘Bad Teacher,’ ‘Muhammad Ali: The Long-Lost Movie’ and What’s New To Theaters Kam Williams July 1, 2011 Columns Bad Teacher Columbia Pictures Rated R for nudity, profanity, sexuality and drug use. Cameron Diaz Plays Misbehaving Schoolmarm In Raunchy Romantic Comedy Public schoolteachers have been getting a pretty bad rap recently, between taking the brunt of the blame for both the declining graduation rates and the escalating deficit of many a state’s economy. Promising to tarnish the noble profession’s reputation even further is this lowbrow comedy revolving around a shameless gold digger too obsessed with landing a sugar daddy to worry about the welfare of her 7th grade students. Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) is a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking alcoholic who lets her class at John Adams Middle School (JAMS) watch movies every morning so she can close her eyes while her hangover wears off. At the point of departure, we find the self-abusing schoolmarm singularly focused on her impending wedding to the filthy-rich heir (Nat Faxon) she sees only as her meal ticket to a pampered life in the lap of luxury. After all, she’s already gotten the gullible guy to give her a Mercedes convertible as well as access to his credit card. However, he wises up and calls off the wedding when informed by his mom (Stephanie Faracy) that his conniving fiancée has maxed out that account. Consequently, Elizabeth rather reluctantly returns to JAMS in the fall, with finding another well-heeled, prospective hubby at the top of her agenda. Sure, the affable gym teacher, Russell Gettis (Jason Segel), starts flirting with her again but he doesn’t have nearly enough money to hold her interest. As it turns out, there is a new substitute teacher, Scott Delacorte (Jason Timberlake), who fits the bill quite nicely. However, Elizabeth immediately encounters some stiff competition for his affection from Amy Squirrell (Lucy Punch), and soon decides that breast implants might turn the tide in her favor. And because there’s a $5,000 bonus in store for the teacher whose class performs the best on the big standardized test at the end of the semester, Elizabeth is highly motivated for the first time to help her students maximize their test scores. So unfolds Bad Teacher, a decidedly adult romp directed by Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard). Don’t be deceived by the movie’s premise, which probably sounds a lot more like a set-up for a classic love triangle than a titillating teensploit. Be forewarned, this Cameron Diaz vehicle seizes on any excuse to serve up crude fare whether by having the heroine engage in relentlessly vulgar repartee or merely prance around scantily clad. Provided you’re in the mood for such salacious fare, Bad Teacher does deliver the requisite number of raunchy rib ticklers to be worth the investment for the testosterone-driven demographic. Very Good (3 stars). Running time: 92 minutes. Muhammad Ali: The Long-Lost Movie Anthology Film Archives Unrated Documentary Gives Glimpses of The Greatest in ’73 & ‘74 In 1966 Muhammad Ali refused to report to an Army induction center when he was drafted to fight in Vietnam, explaining: “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. They ain’t never called me nigger.” At the time, he was undefeated and the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World. However, Muhammad was soon arrested and convicted of draft evasion, and subsequently stripped of his title and boxing license. And he was unable to fight again for over four years, until his conviction was finally overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Muhammad’s arduous path to regaining the heavyweight crown culminated with the classic, 1974 fight in the Congo against George Foreman, forever remembered as The Rumble In The Jungle. What makes Muhammad Ali: The Long-Lost Movie so fascinating is the fact that it was shot in 1973 and 1974 when he was close to completing his amazing comeback against what were considered the longest of odds. After all, Foreman was then considered unbeatable, given how he had just knocked Joe Frazier down six times in four minutes in a two-round contest. Directed by Anton Perich, the film was shot entirely on location at Muhammad’s mountaintop camp located in rustic Deerlake, Penssylvania. The director was afforded free access to shoot Ali in the gym where he is seen both sparring in the ring and working out with his legendary corner men Drew “Bundini” Brown and Angelo Dundee. More interesting are the tête-à-têtes with Muhammad during downtime, when he is heard musing about everything from his faith to his training regimen to racism to the Hurricane Carter case. He even confidently predicts that he will prevail in the impending showdown in Zaire, asserting, “Foreman don’t hit hard. He’s awkward. He can’t go five rounds. It’s going to be a shock to the world.” However, he does concede, “There ain’t but one thing can stop me from winning the fight.” But you’ll have to see the movie to find out his very surprising vulnerability. Ever the philosopher, Ali reveals a very deep side of himself during moments of reflection. Here’s a sampling of his many quips shared: “A man’s wealth is in his knowledge, not in the bank.” “A worldly loss often turns into a spiritual gain, and vice-versa.” “The lover of nature is the true worshipper of God.” Vintage intimate footage of The Greatest on the verge of what would prove to be his greatest moment in the ring. Excellent (3.5 stars). Running time: 120 minutes. Muhammad Ali: The Long-Lost Movie premieres in NYC on July 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Anthology Film Archives. (212) 505-5181. OPENING THIS WEEK Kam’s Kapsules: Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun For movies opening July 1, 2011 Larry Crowne (PG-13 for brief profanity and sexuality). Tom Hanks stars in the title role of this romantic romp as a victim of downsizing who develops a crush on his jaded speech professor (Julia Roberts) when he enrolls at a community college to brush up on his job skills. Supporting cast includes Pam Grier, Wilmer Valderrama, Taraji P. Henson, Cedric the Entertainer, George Takei and Nia Vardalos. Monte Carlo (PG for mild epithets). Road comedy about three young tourists (Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy) who are disappointed during their vacation in Paris until they are suddenly whisked away for a glamorous international adventure when one of them is mistaken for a British heiress. With Andie MacDowell, Cory Monteith, Pierre Boulanger and Catherin Tate. Transformers: Dark Of The Moon (PG-13 for profanity, mayhem, destruction, sexual innuendo and intense, sci-fi violence). Final installment in Michael Bay’s bombastic trilogy finds the heroic Autobots desperate to reach a spacecraft marooned on the moon containing secrets which could turn the tide in their epic showdown with the diabolical Decepticons. Ensemble cast includes Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Hugo Weaving, Dr. Ken Jeong, Josh Duhamel, Frances McDormand, Tyrese, John Malkovich, John Turturro, Patrick Dempsey and Leonard Nimoy. Aurora (Unrated). Deliberately-paced drama contrasting a sedate family man’s (Cristi Puiu) unremarkable home life with his explosive alter ego which only comes out at night while he’s roaming the streets of Bucharest. With Clara Voda, Catrinel Dumitrescu and Luminita Gheorghiu. (In Romanian with subtitles) Crime After Crime (Unrated). Justice delayed biopic recounting the quarter-century campaign to free Debbie Peagler (T’Onna Champagne), a rape victim who was convicted of murder for killing the pimp (Doran Williams) who had forced her into a life of prostitution at the age of 15. With Tennille Williams, Dee Kelly Barrett and Anthony Belcher. Delhi Belly (Unrated). Buddy comedy about three bachelors (Imran Khan, Vir Das and Kunaal Roy Kapur) who land on the hit list of an Indian crime syndicate. With Raju Kher, Rahul Singh and Vijay Raaz. (In Hindi with subtitles.) Love, Etc. (Unrated). Relationship documentary examining the fates of five couples confronting emotional issues revolving around infatuation, engagement, marriage, parenthood and divorce. The Perfect Host (R for profanity, violence and brief sexuality). Crime thriller about a con man (Clayne Crawford) who meets his match when he crashes the wrong dinner party after robbing a bank. With David Hyde Pierce, Helen Reddy and Nathaniel Parker. Polytechnique (Unrated). Canadian crime drama, shot in black and white, dramatizing the real-life, 1989 rampage by a misogynistic lunatic (Maxim Gaudette) on the campus of the University of Montreal which left 14 college coeds dead and another 10 wounded. With Evelyne Brochu, Sebastien Huberdeau and Karine Vanasse. (In French with subtitles.) Small Town Murder Songs (Unrated). Peter Stormare stars in this gothic tale of crime and redemption about an aging police officer who successfully suppresses his violent tendencies until a murder disrupts the peace of his tight-knit, Mennonite community in rural Ontario. With Martha Plimpton, Jill Hennessy, Stephen Eric McIntyre and Aaron Poole. Terri (Unrated). Coming-of-age comedy about an empathetic principal (John C. Reilly) who decides to befriend an ostracized, 15-year-old student (Jacob Wysocki) at his high school. Support cast includes Bridger Zadina, Creed Bratton and Justin Prentice. 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