Skip to main content

See also:

'Bad Words' isn't that good

Jason Bateman in "Bad Words".
Jason Bateman in "Bad Words".
© Focus Features

Bad Words


Here are some bad words to describe the movie "Bad Words": "Great", "Outstanding", "Mind-blowing", "Best movie of the year", "The finest motion picture ever made". "Bad Words" is none of those things, but is "Bad Words" bad? Well, no, not really. It's just that "Bad Words" isn't really all that good either.

"Bad Words" is the directorial debut of actor Jason Bateman. Jason Bateman is known for his comedy roles and this is a comedy so it isn't really a stretch for him. Jason Bateman stars in the movie as well, but it was written by Andrew Dodge and this is his first screenplay. Basically, this is an R rated comedy with some drama mixed in.

The story of "Bad Words" involves an adult named Guy Trilby, played by Jason Bateman, who enters a spelling bee competition for kids. It is due to a technicality in the rules that Guy is able to join the contest. The people running the contest want to kick him out, but technically they can't. The parents of the other contestants grow increasingly frustrated at this. Why, though, would an adult like Guy enter this spelling bee in the first place? Is he just mean? Does he really like spelling and just wants to show the world how good he is? Does he have some kind of grander motive? The movie hints at something throughout, but Guy won't reveal his reasons for entering the competition.

Guy is a very quiet and lonely man when not on stage for the competition. He is being sponsored in the competition by reporter Jenny Widgeon, played by Kathryn Hahn, who follows him around and desperately tries to get him to answer some questions. He doesn't want to talk. Of course, throughout the movie the wall he has built around him starts to collapse little by little. More is revealed about Guy as the movie gets closer to its end. Finally, about 75% of the way through the movie, the reasoning for him entering the contest is revealed.

The reveal about why Guy entered the spelling bee is something that the movie really builds towards. It is a reveal that really could make or break the movie. If the reveal was something that really changed the way one thought about Guy or everything that came before in the movie then it would make the movie so much better. Unfortunately, the reveal isn't all that surprising and it doesn't really change things too much. Yes, the reveal does make Guy a more sympathetic character, but you know, he's still not the greatest, um, guy.

Also featured in the movie is the story of another contestant named Chaitanya Chopra, played by Rohan Chand. This kid is one who, like reporter Jenny, tries to get to know Guy. Guy doesn't want anything to do with anyone, however. Well, not at first at least. Eventually, Guy and Chaitanya develop a relationship as the wall around Guy begins to crumble. This is the heartwarming drama portion of this comedy and it works alright, but it is also pretty predictable and not anything that special.

"Bad Words" is a comedy though and to be fair, it has its funny moments. There are laughs throughout the movie, but mostly they are small laughs. I never found myself laughing too hard at this movie even though technically it is funny. The humor definitely has a R rated edge to it so it's not exactly a family film even if the dramatic portions of the movie really want it to be. The ending of the contest in this movie is what I found to be the funniest and most clever part of the movie. What starts off as a predictable end to the contest ends up being something I hadn't expected. Well, at least for a little while. The movie eventually goes back to predictable territory and that's where it remains until the end credits roll.

"Bad Words" is an attempt to merge R rated comedy with heartwarming drama and it doesn't quite excel at either. The comedy is funny, but not anything too memorable or quotable and the drama is nothing that hasn't been seen before. The end of this movie really could have elevated it to something more than just a light comedy, but the ending turns out to be pretty anti-climatic instead of the powerful conclusion it could have had. Really, "Bad Words" just needed to take things further both in the jokes and in the drama for it to really make an impact.

Here are some good words to describe "Bad Words": "alright", "somewhat decent", "not horrible", "not great", and "Well, it could have been worse!"