Starring: Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, Rohan Chand, Philip Baker Hall
Directed by: Jason Bateman
Written by: Andrew Dodge
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 29 min
Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman) has a plan, and his entering of the Golden Quill Spelling Bee has an end game. We learn that he’s been hurt, and means to get revenge. Once this was established, and I watched him insult other contestants, upset their parents and generally be horrible to everyone, I did expect the big reveal to properly justify his actions. But it doesn’t as far as I’m concerned.
We have this 40 year old man competing against children, and pissing off their parents and fans of the Spelling Bee. Stirring up trouble and costing one high level Spelling Bee organizer her job, all to satisfy a revenge plan that ends up not justifying the drama it causes. If Bad Words was trying to make a larger point about Spelling Bee’s, and shine a light on any extreme personalities involved, that would at least add some justification to Guy Trilby’s actions.
But this movie isn’t really doing that. It tries to vilify characters that have no connection to the central revenge plot, in a failed attempt to make Guy Trilby seem more likable. But when we learn what motivates his actions, the ends don’t justify the means, and I personally found it impossible to root for Guy’s goals.
This movie earns its R rating through the use of bad words (shocker!) Some brief nudity and sexual content. It’s not totally devoid of laughs, and if you’re a fan of Bateman, you may get something out of this.
The cinematography was surprisingly rich, and a big screen showing would showcase Ken Seng’s work off properly. At home a HD showing on your TV is recommended.
Bad Words does supply a few good laughs, and I did enjoy the moments of dialog between Guy and any poor young Spelling Bee contestant unlucky enough to be sat next to him.