**** 1/2 out of 5
Rated R for crude and sexual content, language and brief nudity
Article first published as Movie Review: 'Bad Words' on Blogcritics.
Considering Jason Bateman has been acting for more than 30 years,
it’s surprising it has taken him so long to sit down in the director’s
chair. While having directed a handful of TV shows, including his own Arrested Development, here he certainly brings his A-game to Bad Words, his
big screen directorial debut. Armed with a rapid-fire approach, he
brings his one-note asshole appeal in the starring role as well. Along
with screenwriter Andrew Dodge’s sophomore screenplay, Bateman bounces
from one outlandishly H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S episode to the next.
plays our anti-hero of sorts, Guy Trilby, who has discovered a loophole
in the National Quill Spelling Bee. Even being 40 years old, Guy never
completed the eighth grade, allowing him to enter the competition.
Tagging along is reporter Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn), trying to find
the scoop on what has made Guy decide to enter in the first place.
Guy won’t spill the beans but does make friends with an arch nemesis
in young Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand), left alone by his father at the
contestants’ hotel. Guy soon finds himself taking a liking to the
little guy, taking him out for food, alcohol, and showing him his first
breasts. Meanwhile, Dr. Bernice Deagan (Allison Janney) sets out to stop
Guy from winning at any cost to save the face of President Dr. Bowman’s
(Philip Baker Hall) precious Golden Quill.
From period jokes to enough racial slurs to make the most seasoned audience member blush, Bad Words
is an equal opportunity offender. You have to go as far as the film
does at times and can never pull any punches. This may be the most
hilariously offensive man-child relationship since Bad Santa.
Thankfully, Bateman lets the film go balls out and never tries to cram a
sudden change of heart to Guy’s plan allowing the shenanigans to
escalate to obscene measures. While his directing choices may be
questionable here and there — slow-motion shots are used more than
necessary — Bateman keeps things roaring along and the short runtime
makes sure that the film never wears out its welcome.
Beyond bawdy, but never insulting to its audience, Bad Words
keeps Bateman’s moment in the spotlight from getting tarnished.
Considering the amount of black comedies he’s been starring in lately — Horrible Bosses and Identity Thief
— he needs to step behind the camera more often. He definitely knows
when to keep himself reigned in, letting the rest of the cast have as
many moments to shine; including the wide-eyed Chand who looks like he’s
having the time of his life. Bad Words isn’t out to change the face of comedy, but it will certainly make your face hurt from laughing as hard and often as it does.
Photo courtesy Focus Features