Jason Bateman makes his feature directorial debut with the subversive comedy 'Bad Words'. Mr. Bateman stars as Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old who finds a loophole in the rules of The Golden Quill national spelling bee and decides to cause trouble by hijacking the competition. Contest officials, outraged parents, and overly ambitious 8th graders are no match for Guy, as he ruthlessly crushes their dreams of victory and fame. As a reporter (Kathryn Hahn) attempts to discover his true motivation, Guy finds himself forging an unlikely alliance with a competitor: awkward 10-year-old Chaitanya (Rohan Chand), who is completely unfazed by Guy's take-no-prisoners approach to life.
Forget political correctness, Bad Words is an outrageous dark comedy that has people talking. With Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman as the lead, history has shown you will either love it, or hate it - there is no in-between with his projects.
The film follows Bateman’s character Guy Trilby. He is forty years old, a school drop-out, and in all intents and purposes, a loser. Trilby manages to find a loophole that allows him to enter The Golden Quill, the largest spelling bee in America. Officials struggle to rein him in, parents fight for their thwarted children, and Trilby manages to find a friend in ten year old Chaitanya - an awkward competitor. Will the officials and parents succeed in removing him from the competition? And is there any chance for Trilby to change his crazy ways?
I first saw the trailer for this film while I was away on holiday, and I made sure to write down its title so I could look it up when I got home. In primary school, I was one of the top spellers out of all of the students, and have even participated in a spelling bee, so this film really interested me. I did not win, but rest assured, I will not be re-entering as an adult. The story is not what I have seen before, and - with the exception of its extensive use of course language - it was a refreshing change from the endless remakes.
Jason Bateman (who also directed the film) does an excellent job as the incredibly unlikable Guy Trilby. He was great in Arrested Development, but I feel his film pursuits have not been as successful. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
They always say never to work with kids, but Rohan Chand (who plays Chaitanya) shows that sometimes the kids can steal the show. For someone so young, he definitely seemed comfortable in front of the camera, and brought stark innocence to Trilby’s offensiveness.
Written by Andrew Dodge (also a feature film debut), the dialogue was quick and funny, with quite a few laugh out loud moments.
As I said before, Jason Bateman not only starred in the film, but he also directed it. While he did everything he was supposed to do, the cinematography wasn’t anything special, and you wouldn’t have known it was him without the credit.
Online and in-print reviews have been generally positive. However, for some, the jokes were offensive and the stereotypes were nothing but racist. The film failed to earn back its production budget, but DVD sales might eventually let it break even.
Its use of course language and adult themes makes it unsuitable for younger audiences, but should be nothing new to those of-age. You will either love it or hate it. I have given it four out of five stars because it is a new and interesting idea and worth a watch.