Good, Bad & Ugly Review: Bad Words

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 64% (Critics) / 74% (Audience)
Directed By: Jason Bateman
Written By: Andrew Dodge
Starring: Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, Philip Baker Hall and Rohan Chand
Studio: Focus Features

Synopsis: 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 of We’re the Millers) attempts to discover his true motivation, Guy finds himself forging an unlikely alliance with a competitor: awkward 10-year-old Chaitanya (Rohan Chand of Homeland), who is completely unfazed by Guy’s take-no-prisoners approach to life. – (Source)

The Good:
Jason Bateman really shined in this movie as the eternally acerbic Gus Trilby. He was able to take a totally horrendous human being and inject him with enough humanity to make him worth caring about while never losing any of his edge. He also showed really great chemistry with both Kathryn Hahn (wonderful in a role that could have been totally forgettable in a lesser actresses hands) and Rohan Chand as Trilby’s main competition-turned-buddy in the most inappropriate adult/child friendship I have seen on screen in quite a while.
I also appreciated the way Bateman directed this movie. He didn’t do anything splashy in his directing debut but he had a steady hand and never did anything visually that distracted from the characters on nthe screen and what they were going through.

The Bad:
While I liked what Bateman did as a director I did find myself thinking that what I was watching was more akin to an episode of a TV series…a quality TV series on AMC or HBO but a TV series nonetheless.

The Ugly
I really think more could have been done with Allison Janney’s character, the uptight Dr. Bernice Deagan, as Trilby’s nemesis. Janney and Bateman had a nice spark in their combative scenes together.

Final Verdict: BAD WORDS is Jason Bateman’s movie in every way possible. He is funny, outrageous, sometimes hard to like yet impossible to ignore and on top of that he shows a very deft hand at direction. Buoyed with a stellar supporting cast and just the right amount of heart to go along with the dark comedy, this film is a major treat.

Grade: B+

2 thoughts on “Good, Bad & Ugly Review: Bad Words

  1. Great to finally get a chance and see Bateman just cut-loose for once and a lifetime and have a great time with the material he’s working with. Good review.


    1. I agree that it was good to see Bateman as something other than the straight man. Hopefully this will open up more diverse roles for him in the future.


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