Pam Powell, movie reviewer for The Daily Journal, says 3 out of 4 stars.
Jason Bateman directs and stars in the dark comedy "Bad Words," which opens locally this weekend. Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, Philip Baker Hall, and Rohan Chand accompany Bateman on the screen creating an mix of personalities that is unforgettable.
Oh, frabjous joy! Callooh! Callay! What? You don't know the meaning of the word "frabjous?" How about "oleaginate?" or "floccinaucinihilipilification?" Well, Jason Bateman's new movie "Bad Words" would put you to shame … and probably also would make your grandmother blush at some of the phrases, words and slams that are hilariously spewed in this movie.
Bateman's character, Guy Trilby, seems to be dealing with "arrested development." (Yes, pun intended.) What better way to portray that concept than competing in spelling bees across the country in an attempt to be the reigning champion — in your 40's. You thought spelling bees were only for children? You're right, but Guy Trilby has found a loop hole as he is then able to compete against some unbelievably smart little whippersnappers. The ruckus he causes with both parents and children alike, brings this movie to a whole new level. It is truly a bizarre premise for a movie, but it works.
Guy Trilby is accompanied by Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn) who is a journalist trying to capture the real story behind his spelling bee quest. Guy is truly one of the most self-centered, unabashed, uncompromising, and egotistical characters there could possibly be which leads to awkward and funny interactions not only with Jenny, but everyone he encounters. Guy's unvarnished view of the world and the wisdom he imparts upon the cute little eighth graders will make you squirm in your seat. In addition, the antics he plays in an effort to undermine the innocence of these children will leave you speechless.
Bateman's performance is simply perfect. He takes his usual sweet, charming self and turns into the epitome of a righteous know-it-all emitting completely politically incorrect profanity and offending every race, gender, and poorly dressed woman in a "potholder" vest out there. His delivery is biting and unapologetic — exactly what this character should do. Rohan and Bateman complement each other, enhancing this very off-color and completely not politically correct film. The dialogue and situations will make your jaw drop, but it'll also make you laugh! Hahn shows off her versatility and comedic timing in her role as she too, shows signs of "arrested development." Chand plays Chaitanya Chopra who is Guy's little buddy and nemesis all wrapped into one. This sweet child's vocabulary and experiences grow exponentially under the tutelage of Guy Trilby.
"Bad Words" is a fast paced, dark comedy that is uniquely creative and very funny. It is most definitely geared toward an audience of adults, not children. Be warned, however! If you are offended by bad language, sex, racial comments, and off-color humor you will be completely put off. But if you can take it at face value, you'll enjoy this quick-witted film … you might even learn the meaning of some new words!