We've all got them inside us but it's not always the place or the time to say them, even though we secretly wish we could. While "Bad Words" leans on a flimsy premise that has been done before while littered with bad language, there is actually some genuine heart underneath it all.
Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman), a 40-year-old who finds a loophole in the rules of The Golden Quill national spelling bee, 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) attempts to discover his true motivation, Guy finds himself forging an unlikely alliance with a competitor: 10-year-old Chaitanya (Rohan Chand), who is completely unfazed by Guy's approach to life.
With a premise is as tired as the day is long, "Bad Words" shouldn't work but against all odds it still manages to work thanks to some excellent chemistry in a script that is a lot smarter than you'd expect along with some very solid comedic performances.
For his first time in the director's chair on a feature, Jason Bateman didn't have to reinvent the wheel in this comedy, but he did successfully keep the action moving all along the narrative as it needed to be. Directed with the sensibilities of doing an episode of a sitcom, nothing about what he did was flashy, but as we get roped into this ridiculous hook about a forty year old man trying to win a spelling bee, whose motives run much deeper then we initially expected. The sweeter and honestly more entertaining story gets uncovered as more and more of the narrative unfolds and this man who has been closed off his entire life is now faced with the prospect of some real friends as he confronts his past and it was played quite well by a man who shouldn't have been able to handle the responsinbility of both acting and directing.
Bateman who must have been relieved to have a project where he wasn't playing the straight man, bit into this role with a little too much fervor has he got to swear a blue streak and basically be the exact opposite of almost everything that he has done before. The real magic though was between him and Rohan Chand as they both discover the realities of having a best friend for the first time, despite being 30 years apart in age.
Ultimately, "Bad Words" is a great exercise in execution that gives us a sweet story with some foul mouthed laughs at the same time.
3 out of 5 stars.
Picture and sound quality are first rate and the special features include deleted and extended scenes, a behind the scenes look at the making of the film and a feature length commentary track from director Jason Bateman.
"Bad Words" is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray, On Demand and Digital Download from all major providers and retailers.