BAD WORDS (2014)


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.

3 clappers

About thomasjford

I like Movies and Music and most things popular culture.


  1. DId you ever see the original end to Dodgeball? In the first version, the underdogs lost! But the test audiences hated it, studio panics & they had to shoot a new ending.

  2. Interesting review! I’m interested in the “blacklist of 2011”? What other film projects were on it?

  3. Thanks for your review, Tom. This one’s on my TBW…

  4. I liked this one and our scores are roughly the same! Nothing groundbreaking or memorable but enough to cause a few laughs and spice up an evening!

  5. Shame this movie didn’t turn out better, given that I’m a big Jason Bateman fan. You know I thought for the longest time that he had directed “Juno”? Jason the Bateman starred; Jason the Reitman directed. Too confusing for me. Also, what’s this mysterious “blacklist of 2011”?

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