Synopsis: In Jason Bateman’s directorial debut, Bad Words follows 40-year-old Guy Trilby (Bateman), who is seeking revenge on the Golden Quill Spelling Bee by competing and with the intent on winning.
Review: After finding a loophole that allowed him to compete in a spelling bee, Guy Trilby has found himself in the Nationals for the Golden Quill Spelling Bee. With the aid of his reporter Jenny (Kathryn Hahn), Trilby is set to seek revenge on the Golden Quill that is a mystery to everyone involved.
Bad Words is the directorial debut of Jason Bateman, and while you might think the film would be in the vein of Arrested Development, it is more of the style you have seen recently from films like The Hangover or even Bateman’s own comedy Horrible Bosses. However, the comedy doesn’t hold back and is successful almost every time in the one liners.
The film also boasts a strong supporting cast, which only helps tell the narrative. The B-story of the film follows Trilby’s growing friendship with the pint-sized Chaitanya (Rohan Chand), an outsider among his peers and tries to show him how to become a man. Chaitanya later becomes his fiercest rival, as the friendship is revealed to be a ploy.
What Bad Words does best is giving the film not one, but dozens of antagonists led by the Director of the Golden Quill Spelling Bee, Dr. Bernice Deagan (Allison Janney) as well as the Bee’s founder Dr. Bowman (Philip Baker Hall).
However, while the film does almost everything right, it does one thing very wrong. Once the audience figures out why Trilby does hijacks the spelling bee, the climax, while hilarious, feels like a letdown. Instead of a resolution of the A-Story spelling bee, you find Trilby and Chaitanya concluding things on better terms. Maybe it was to show growth on Trilby’s end, and that the B-Story became the A-Story in the end.
Bad Words is definitely one of the funniest films that serves recent memory. Bateman works just as well behind the camera as he does in front, and this could serve as a nice jumping point in becoming a great director in the next few years.
There aren’t too many films that could make anything revolving a spelling bee funny, but Bad Words definitely can be added to that list. With a strong cast, witty dialogue, and some unforgettable lines, Bad Words might only be in 850 screens, but it will definitely become a fan favorite for years to come.
Final Grade: 8.5/10