Bad Words is the new dark comedy directed by and starring Jason Bateman, which also marks his directorial debut. Bateman got his start in acting when he was only 12 years old on the set of Little House on the Prairie and has been working steadily in the entertainment business ever since. He’s starred in such films as Teen Wolf Too, Juno, and Horrible Bosses to name a few. Along with Bateman, the rest of the cast is made up of Allison Janney, Kathryn Hahn, Philip Baker Hall, and the youngster Rohan Chand. The movie premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival last September and is rolling out wide on March 28.
Guy Trilby (Bateman), a middle-aged man who never graduated from the 8th grade, is attempting to compete in the National Quell Spelling Bee. He has found a loophole in the rules that states anyone having not completed the 8th grade by a certain date is eligible to compete. His entry is met with much resistance and animosity from everyone involved, especially the director of the bee, Dr. Bernice Deagan (Janney). Guy’s companion in his quest is an online reporter (Hahn) that is interested in getting this big story, even though he doesn’t give her anything to work with. Along the way, Guy befriends one of the younger contestants and ends up exposing him to things a child should not be exposed to. Actually, Guy should end up in jail for most of the things that go on in this movie. As the competition winds down and the reason as to why Guy is doing this is exposed, will Guy stand victorious or will he be the bigger man and bow out.
I’m starting to think my idea of comedy is completely different than the rest of the human population. I can’t say that I found one thing about Bad Words the least bit funny or humorous. With that said, it seemed the rest of the audience was in stitches throughout the majority of the movie. One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to comedy is the use of profanity as the punch line, and that is exactly the type of comedy Bad Words brings to the table. That, along with hurling obscene insults to people who don’t deserve it. It seems very lazy to me and I just don’t get it. Aside from it not being funny, the story felt empty and incomplete. The story is centered around this secret as to why Guy is going to all this trouble to make a mockery out of the spelling bee, and the big reveal couldn’t have been any less uneventful. I fully expected the end result to be how Guy had found a way to beat the system and cheat at a spelling bee, but that wasn’t the case at all (which would have made for a much better movie if you ask me). The movie just never came together and so many questions go unanswered. The one positive takeaway for me was child actor Rohan Chand; he is ridiculously cute and steals every scene that he’s in. I’m normally a big fan of Jason Bateman and generally think he’s one of the funniest actors working, but Bad Words just didn’t do it for me. My recommendation would be to skip this one altogether, but by the reaction of the crowd at my screening, I might be in the minority.
Bad Words opens in theaters on Friday, March 28.