It is easy to see, even based on the restrained trailer, why Bad Words has earned its name. Jason Bateman (of Arrested Development and Horrible Bosses fame) both directs the movie and stars as Guy Trilby, a cynical middle-aged man who enters the National Spelling Bee based on a loophole of not passing the 8th grade. Despite this, he is able to spell words that are longer than the alphabet, even when his words are specifically sabotaged. Through out the whole movie, Guy berates and breaks down almost every other character in the film, from the other kid competitors to their parents. But the mystery is why he is doing this, which is being investigated by the reporter/love interest of the movie, played by Kathryn Hahn (of We’re the Millers fame).
The answer is given towards the end of the movie, but still leaves one last spelling competition for Bateman and his co-star, 10 year old Rohan Chand (of Lone Survivor fame), to compete against each other in. He plays a kid who befriends Bateman and goes to the finals against him. While the kid starts out annoying, he surprisingly shows a wide range of emotion, from confused curiosity as Bateman tells him to shut up to a scream of agony, that rivals the original Khan yell of William Shatner, when Bateman destroys his best friend, a binder named Todd. The kid’s performance is worth the price of admission alone.
The film even makes fun of other spelling bee movies, when both Bateman and Chand decide to let the other win in what is supposed to be a selfish act of kindness. Instead, it leads to a brawl, and the 10 year old knocks out an old man with a chair.
The comedy matches that of Family Guy, in that if you are offended by Seth MacFarlane’s style of comedy, this movie is probably not for you. However, if you do enjoy that type of comedy, or at least Jason Bateman, then only good can come from Bad Words. And look out for Bateman in the upcoming Horrible Bosses 2, coming around November.
Final Rating: 8 out of 10 (nothing but good words for Bad Words)