Jason Bateman directs and stars in this raucous comedy about a cranky, foul-mouthed, fortysomething high-school dropout who, through a registration loophole, enters a national children’s spelling bee and ruthlessly sets out to destroy his pint-sized competition.
It's the rare actor that can successfully make the transition to working behind the camera, but Jason Bateman has made his directorial debut with such panache, skill, and inspired mischief, that it makes it tough to utter anything but good — make that great — words about Bad Words.
Having spent thirty years in front of the camera, the Arrested Development star understands that the script is everything, and choosing Andrew Dodge's original, irreverent screenplay — which made the prestigious Black List in 2011 — was a shrewd decision, as it plays to Bateman's talents both as a director and actor. The story is irresistible: thanks to a registration loophole, Guy Trilby (Bateman), a forty-one-year-old, foul-mouthed, cranky, ill-mannered high-school dropout, enters the National Quill Spelling Bee — a contest he is ruthlessly determined to win. Trilby slashes and burns through the regionals, then, at the national level, he meets legitimate competitor Chaitanya (the utterly charming and delightful Rohan Chand), a seemingly ingenuous boy unfazed by the older man's misanthropic mien.
Trilby's motivation for destroying the hopes of thousands of young spellers is finally revealed, but not before he comes up against bee director Dr. Bernice Deagan (Allison Janney), who employs a steely glare that would make Nurse Ratchett quiver.
Utilizing the same deft timing and strong
grasp of emotional motivations that he has
exhibited in his numerous winning comic
performances of the last decade, Bateman
has created a dark, raucous comedy. You
may find yourself squirming at some of the
politically incorrect humour, but you won't
help but revel in the sheer brazen audacity
on display in every frame. How do you spell