For anyone who’s seen films featuring the actor Jason Bateman, you know that he kind of specializes in playing snarky, sarcastic characters. They’re not always bad guys, but even when he’s playing nice he’s generally a bit of a know-it-all. Now he’s made his directorial debut in which he has cast himself as the star, and he obviously knew that he’d be best to play an extremely sarcastic guy. This time around, he’s straight-up mean too.
In Bad Words he plays a 40 year-old man who’s figured out a loophole in the rules which allow him to compete against kids for the spelling bee championship… much to the dismay of their parents. As a former spelling bee kid myself, I recall the whole process of entering a school’s spelling bee, then advancing to regionals, and hoping to make it to the national championship. Here, we watch Bateman go through the process all the while infuriating everyone along the way. Not only is he beating children at a contest primarily made for them to compete in, but he rubs it in with a cocky, careless attitude the whole time.
You can’t help but laugh though at some of the comments he makes at the kids. The more shocking things he says, the funnier it is. But instead of just watching a movie about a bad guy out-spelling children, Bateman adds another layer by having one kid try very hard to befriend him. This kid seems to be his main competition, but the boy finds him interesting and takes a liking to him quickly. Since they share a hotel while competing in the same tournament, they can’t help but keep crossing paths. And soon enough, they start hanging out. This causes the 40 year-old to corrupt the child in all kinds of ways though. So while Jason Bateman’s character may appear to be heartless, we do get to see him bond with the kid and form an odd friendship. For most of the time, we think he’s just a man taking pleasure in pissing people off but we do eventually find out what his reason for entering the contest really is – whether it’s justifiable or not.
I strongly recommend the movie if you’re looking to laugh a lot. I’m not someone who laughs easily and there were plenty of times I did while watching this. Some people might actually get offended at parts - especially since he says some racial and misogynistic comments at times, much like Clint Eastwood’s character in Gran Torino but in a more humorous way. So if you don’t mind that and can enjoy a movie that pushes the envelope a little and doesn’t mind being controversial, than you’ll love this. Bad Words opens in limited release on March 14 and then goes wide on March 28.