Title – Bad Words (2013)
Director – Jason Bateman (feature debut)
Cast – Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Rohan Chand, Philip Baker Hall, Alison Janney
Plot – Grade A arrogant speller Guy Trilby (Bateman) finds himself a participant in child’s spelling bee contest the Golden Quill, much to the behest of the many parents. Guy’s reasoning behind entering the contest and being mean to everyone he speaks to both old and young slowly becomes clear as he makes his way through the contest.
“Your child is so ugly it’s not even abductable”
Review by Eddie on 25/11/2014
From a teen wolf, a member of the Bluth family and a worker with a very horrible boss, former teen acting prodigy Jason Bateman has made a very commendable career for himself virtually playing the exact same character over and over again, and good on him, if the goings good why not! Taking the next step in his long career, Bateman has now ventured into the cutthroat world of feature length directing with this extremely dark and often downright crass comedy that is an exercise in missed opportunities and self-assuredness.
Bad Words doesn’t fell dissimilar to a dark Coen Brothers comedy or even a Bobcat Goldthwait oddity in that many things that occur throughout and what our main character does is often quite despicable, rude or downright devious. Full props to Bateman who never sugar-coats his role as spelling bee fiend Guy Trilby, a man who takes no prisoners and is equally at home verbally taking down a child as he is an adult, put bluntly, he is a massive twit. Guy is a hard person to really like (perhaps that is a main point of the film?) and it makes it hard to care too much for him and his mysterious goal that drives the story in a fashion that disallows the premise to full thrive.
Seemingly looking to make an un-pc feature length version of the great 2002 doco Spellbound, Bateman has set this depraved journey around the underused and utterly ripe background of spelling contests that provide the film with its greatest comedic moments. Whether it’s Guy being tasked with spelling utterly ridiculous words or his harassment of other contestants, there are these brilliant comedic moments that despite being dark, remain entirely hilarious. Moments outside the spelling bee itself however, bring the film down to the level it sadly stays at the most of its runtime. From Guy’s dalliances with Kathryn Hahn’s reporter Jenny or the weird friendship he starts off with “slumdog” Indian child Chaitanya, it all seems worryingly unfunny and the films eventual reveal for Guy’s journey feels like a fair old cop out.
Many viewers will lap up the depraved laughs of Bateman’s well filmed yet ill-informed dark comedy. With enough insulting one liners to fill up a full swear jar twice over and with some downright insidious situations that Guy willingly partakes in, Bad Words is always intriguing and sometimes hilarious but as a whole it’s a little too evil for its own good and one feels a short film would of suited this tale a lot better than a feature length trek.
2 tomato sauce sachets out of 5