Title: Bad Words
Director: Jason Bateman
Stars: Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Rohan Chand, Allison Janney, Philip Baker Hall, etc.
I had high hopes for Bad Words. Jason Bateman is among my favorites, and is generally quite funny, combined with the film being his directorial debut, as well as a fair amount of pre-release hype had me really looking forward to a thorough comedy. Unfortunately, the end results ends up incredibly dry, plain, outright mean-spirited, and predictable.
Bateman stars as degenerate asshole Guy Trilby, who finds a loophole in the rules to a national spelling bee, and, since he didn’t actually finish the 8th grade, is able to enter, much to the vexation of the parents a spelling bee council members. His motives shift throughout the film, beginning as a “why the hell not?” type situation, and evolving into, as researched by his journalist friend with benefits, a chance to show his actual extreme talent at spelling, since he was unable to display it at a young age. Another factor that contributes to the character is his fellow bee contender Chaitanya Chopra (an adorable Rohan Chand, who is easily among the strong points of the film despite the fact that, the second you meet his character, you know exactly how it will end up).
There are a few good laughs in the film, mainly a result of quick spouts of good writing; Bateman’s biting insults that he throws are most anyone and everyone, are dripping with sarcasm, delivered in his signature fashion. His chemistry with Chand is evident, as the two make for several hearty chuckles, but the majority of the films jokes, come at the expense of kids in such a mean-spirited fashion that it comes of as more appalling than humorous. There isn’t much else to say for the rest of the cast; the characters are hardly memorable and give virtually no weight to any of the film’s humor.
Once the film wraps up (just how you expected it to), you’re left feeling a little empty. There seemed so much potential for a movie with such silly (if ridiculous and absurd) idea behind it, and despite a few good laughs, and passable performances from leads, the end result is mediocre.