Saturday, April 05, 2014
Jason Bateman makes his directorial debut along with starring in and producing, “Bad Words”. He plays Guy Trilby, a 40 years old man, who never finished the 8th grade which makes him eligible to compete with 10 year olds in a spelling bee eventually winding up in the national finals.
“Bad Words” is a comedy that makes fun of kids such as a 40 year old man giving a 10 year contestant the finger or taking the kid Chaitanya, played by Rohan Chand, to a prostitute so she could show him her boobs. How about eliminating a contestant by making her think she is ‘becoming a woman‘ then and there where she has to get up in front of a crowd to spell a word? And then how could he not help pick on a fat kid before the boy’s turn in the spelling bee?
Bateman gets a certain sympathy in any film because of his persona but here it is the screenplay by Andrew Dodge who gives the actor sharp lines that will make you laugh even when you know it is wrong. The interplay between Guy and the reporter, Jenny Widgeon, played by Kathryn Hahn, looking to find out what is behind the story, is also funny though at times in a cruel way.
Dr. Deagan, played by Allison Janney, as the director of the spelling bee, has nothing but disdain for Guy and makes it quite clear by giving him a supply closet for his hotel room. The Golden Quill’s spelling bee founder, played by Philip Baker Hall, attempts to keep everything on an even keel turns comedy to drama on a dime.
Anyone who has been going to the movies knows where the story is heading but Bateman handles the actors, and himself, with a lightness that makes what is said and shown on film almost funny. The relationship between Guy and Chaitanya is the meat of the story and if the kid can forgive the adult so can we.