To say that Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) is lacking the necessary skills to be a decent teacher would be an understatement of epic proportions. Prone to staggering into work nursing a debilitating hangover and generally treating all her high school students with the utmost contempt, she’s biding her time before its wedding bells for her and her extremely wealthy fiancé.

Trouble starts when said fiancé is pressured into dumping her by his non-nonsense mother and Halsey is forced to stay on at the school she despises. Pretty soon she spots another potential big win in the form of a new substitute teacher and heir to a big clothing empire, Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake). She discovers however, that Scott is also being pursued by another colleague, the exasperatingly jolly and perpetually breezy Amy Squirrell (Lucy Punch). Halsey decides that perhaps a little surgical enhancement may sway Delacorte’s opinion and she sets off on a mission to raise the funds needed, all to the bemusement of the school’s easy-going gym teacher Russell Gettis (Jason Segel), who finds himself falling for his shallow co-worker (god knows why!).

Bad Teacher comes with a strong comedic pedigree attached. Featuring alumni from the short-lived, much-loved coming-of-age comedy TV series Freaks and Geeks (stars Jason Segal, Dave ‘Gruber’ Allen, composer Michael Andrews and the show’s consulting producer and sometime director, Jake Kasdan) and the writing duo behind the US version of The Office (Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg), the film should be as close to comedic alchemy as you can get. Unfortunately, it never really comes fully alive, and despite the best efforts of co-stars Punch and Segal, the script offers nothing fresh or new in an already tiresome set-up, and is further stymied by a weak central performance from Diaz.

Unlike the similarly-themed and monikered Bad Santa, where Billy Bob Thornton was genuinely repellent and believable as a grade-A curmudgeon, Diaz’s badness feels rather one-dimensional, and just by dropping loads of f-bombs during school hours and insulting member of staff and students doesn’t necessarily make for a humorous time.

Bad Teacher ( scenarios we’ve seen time and time again are wheeled out once more. A charity car wash within the school grounds which Diaz hijacks to make money for her boob fund is particularly tedious and predictable, even calling to mind a similar scene from the actresses’ past oeuvre, Charlie’s Angels. It’s all provocative poses, soaped up cleavage shots and slow-mo hose action, which may have been acceptable (and indeed funnier) years back, but as Diaz is pushing 40 now, you almost want a character from the film to step out with a towel and drag her away from the sad spectacle she’s making of herself.

The scripts short-comings also have an effect on Timberlake’s character, and although he has an extremely funny fully-clothed romp with Diaz mid-way through, his holier-then-thou and straight-laced do-gooder is yet another comedy trope and the actor struggles to breathe life into this broad caricature.

Segal is his usual laidback and effortlessly funny self, although he isn’t in it long enough and the scenes he shares with Diaz end up highlighting her own comedic shortcomings really. It’s nice to see UK comedienne Lucy Punch making a solid impression in her first big US comedy, and she’s a lot of fun as that recognisable teacher, whose overly enthusiastic day-to-day education of young minds borders on the unhinged. Her whole gee whiz persona and terminally sunny disposition begins to show serious cracks later on in proceedings and many of the films laughs are found here.

There are a handful of genuinely funny moments in the film (Diaz’s complete disregard to the job results in her continuously screening high school-related films to her class while she sleeps off yet another night on the tiles) but they’re few and far between, which is a real shame coming from a team who are working within a field which they are renowned for and of which is their forte.

If Bad Teacher was to receive an end-of-year report from school, it would read – “an all-round disappointing effort and fully capable of achieving better”.