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'Bad Words' review: Bateman's 'Bad' is pretty good

Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, and Rohan Chand pose to promote "Bad Words."
Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Bad Words


First time screenwriter Andrew Dodge teams up with Jason Bateman for his first time directing a feature film. With no expectations, “Bad Words” is a short, humorous film that blends sentiment with its outrageous offensiveness.

Finding a loophole in a nationwide spelling bee competition, Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman), a 40-year-old, enters against children and pre-teens. Backed by an online reporter curious for his story, Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn), Guy makes a mockery of the competition by cockily winning the regional rounds and sabotaging the self-esteem of many other contestants. When finally entering Dr. Bowman’s (Philip Baker Hall) National Bee, organized by Dr. Bernice Deagan (Allison Janney), Guy makes an unlikely friendship with fellow contestant Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand), a talkative and adorable child. Chaitanya and Jenny separately try to get to know Guy better, but Guy abrasively keeps everyone at a distance.

“Bad Words” is reminiscent of “Bad Santa” from 2003; an unlikely friendship forms between an awkward child and a vulgar, rude adult loner. If one can handle the content, the banter between Rohan Chand and Jason Bateman feels genuine, playful, and amusing. Guy is immature and crass, but the relationship between the actors brings out a whimsical feeling of improv.

The situation has been done before in various settings, so the ending of “Bad Words” is expected, but the personable young actor and the Bateman’s lack of boundaries combines to be absurdly charming and worthwhile. Guy may be a cruel, bad influence, but his goal is fittingly appropriate without melodrama. “Bad Words” is worth a watch.

Rating for “Bad Words:” B+

For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.

“Bad Words” is currently playing in about half the theatres of Columbus, including Gateway and AMC Lennox and Easton. For showtimes, click here.

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