Film Review: Bad Words


Plot: When Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman) enters a nationally televised spelling bee for reasons left to be discovered, he befriends a young contestant who teaches him more about the game and life than he ever knew before.

Jason Bateman makes his directorial debut with Bad Words, a dark comedy centering around a grown man taking on little kids in spelling bee competitions. The film breezes along at a brief 90 minutes and is a great number of laughs to be had during the course of events. While Bateman is absolutely fantastic as the star of the movie, equally wonderful is his partner in crime, actor Rohan Chand. I had the worry that Chand would become irritating quickly, as child stars walk that line very often. But Chand is a delight and holds his own with Bateman. The two worked very well together and bring in some big belly laughs.


Bateman’s Trilby has an underlying mission with his whole enrolling in these types of contests, and by movie’s end we get to see why. However, the emotional impact is not really as fulfilling as I would have hoped. It falls flat, sadly. However, the conclusion of the film saves it, and while I won’t go into detail regarding the final moments before credits, let’s just say it fits the tone of the film perfectly.

While I had hoped Bad Words would’ve made me a laugh a bit more, I won’t split hairs. The dialogue is razor sharp, and my appreciation of Bateman has grown with the film. He also seems to have the director thing going for him; maybe more comedies will come out of the pipeline. Who knows?

Anyway, the movie was very entertaining and even though I had some issues, there’s no doubt that it was funny as hell in many areas. It isn’t the best comedy I’ve seen this year, but for a night at the cinema, I could’ve done way worse.

All photos credit: Focus Features

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