Starring: Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Alison Janney, Rohan Chand, Philip Baker Hall
Directed by: Jason Bateman
Synopsis: A spelling bee loser sets out to exact revenge by finding a loophole and attempting to win as an adult.
Jason Bateman’s directorial debut isn’t likely to win any awards, but he shows he has talent behind the camera to add to his comedic chops. The film was on the famous ‘black list’ of 2011 before being picked up as a vehicle for Bateman. It was only given a limited release, which is a shame because it’s probably funnier than a lot of it’s contemporaries (looking at you Anchorman 2).
The story revolves around a forty year old man called Guy Trilby (Bateman) who, through a loophole in the system, has got himself an entry in to a child’s spelling bee competition, much to the outrage of the parents and judges, and bemusement of the kids. Try as they might to get him out, Guy just keeps hanging on in there, causing several waves along the way. It’s a fairly straight forward story, a kind of twist on the usual underdog thing (like Dodgeball), but this time it has a flair for bad behaviour and, well, bad words.
Jason Bateman plays his usual comedic ‘straight man’ role well. Full of dead pan expressions. This time, however, he is playing against type to a degree. Instead of the nice guy ‘Michael Bluth’ character from Arrested Development, he is a bad guy of sorts. Or, a foul mouthed, corrupting, cheating kind of guy anyway. Bateman’s relationship with young Chaitanya (Rohan Chand) is quite sweet in places, and shows that Trilby does indeed have a heart. It’s also really politically incorrect which, rightly or wrongly, was actually pretty funny. Bateman’s interplay with Kathryn Hahn’s journalist was also pretty funny.
Bad Words is hardly ground breaking comedy, despite being consistently funny, and the story culminates in a fairly average, anticlimactic way, like most comedies do these days. Despite it being foul mouthed and politically incorrect throughout, it still takes the ‘all’s well that ends well’ approach that most films do, which is a shame seeing as it isn’t a Hollywood made movie. Still, it had me laughing for most of it so I can’t complain too much.