“Bad Words” Review

As Jason Bateman’s directorial debut, Bad Words tells the story of Guy Trilby, a 40-something who finds a loophole to compete in the national spelling bee, annoying kids and parents alike. Bateman stars, for once not playing the straight man. 10-year-old Rohan Chand takes this role, as the young Indian-American competitor Trilby reluctantly befriends. Despite their age differences, they have an incredibly amount of charisma together, and Chand’s complete innocence makes Bateman’s continuous verbal abuse all-the-funnier.

The question you are given throughout the film is, “Why is he doing this?” Kathryn Hahn plays a reporter, helping him in attempt to get a story, and she serves as the guide for many of these questions. While the result we get in the end isn’t 100% fulfilling, it’s enough to justify the film’s existence, and doesn’t disappoint too much.

Bad Words is an independent film, and this works to its advantage. With a lack of studio involvement, the script takes a lot more risks with its humor. The majority of the movie relies upon the shock value of Bateman trash-talking middle school students, and the independent feel helps the jokes land well. Not all of the jokes work, but a surprising amount hit their mark. That said, if shock humor 
isn’t for you, then you should definitely pass on this film.

The soundtrack is another element of the film that really helps it work. It ranges from Beethoven to Beastie Boys, and it suits the tone perfectly.

In the end, there’s nothing too complex about this film, but it’s very entertaining. Jason Bateman shows a high level of confidence for his first time in the director’s chair, and I’m anxious to see what else comes from him. I doubt that this will become a classic comedy, or even one that you need to see more than once, but it’s enjoyable from start to finish, and one of the better films to come out thus far in the year. 7/10.

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