Bad Words – 4 out of 5
As a kid, I hated the Spelling Bee. I’ve never considered myself a terrible speller and I know I’ve made some mistakes here and there (I’m sure there are some misspellings that got by my proofreading sessions of my reviews) but I’ve always felt I have a fairly decent grasp on the spelling of words. However, I still hated the Spelling Bee and, to this day, hate being put on the spot to spell (the same principle is in use when I play Blackjack—with all those eyes staring at you, it’s just too much pressure to do basic math in public). Regardless of my fear of spelling words in public (I worry that someday a man will jump out of a shadowy corner and forced me to spell "philosophic"), I have to say that the film Bad Words is hysterical!
|Still, you can't pay me to do a Spelling Bee.|
Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman) is a man with a plan. His plan in simple: He is going to use every loophole he can find and allow himself to compete in a children’s national spelling bee. The parents of the kids involved and the officials are irate to see this crass, offensive individual making a mockery of their institution but Guy has some hidden motivation to it all. What are those motives? Well, that’s what reporter Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn) is trying to figure out. However, along the way, Guy learns a little bit about himself and one of his fellow competitors; Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand), who is able to cut through his foul-mouthed exterior and tries to form a friendship with him.
|The Bollywood-style dance number on the plane in an attempt to win Trilby's|
friendship was particularly enjoyable.
Bad Words could have easily gone the gratuitous route and went for the easy joke about an adult man competing against younglings in a contest meant for children. Put Adam Sandler in the lead, have him yell at the kids and throw in an offensive stereotype here and there along with a couple of swear words and you have a terrible comedy that will somehow make money at the box office (because, deep down, we have a terrible collective sense of humor in this country). However, Bad Words was somehow able to be crass, offensive, witty, intelligent, hysterical and touching all at the same time…plus, we get Jason Bateman and not Adam Sandler in the lead and that’s a huge plus!
|Infinitely better than Sandler.|
The humor in Bad Words, on paper, is extremely offensive and most of the insults that come flying out of Bateman’s mouth will make a Redneck blush (and take note on the new racially-geared insults he just learned) and taking all of them out of context could easily paint the picture that the film is trying to be offensive for the sake of being offensive like those awful comedians who think rape jokes just mean you say the word “rape” as the punch line and you are suddenly an extreme, edgy comic. Instead, the terrible things Guy Trilby is saying actually serve a purpose beyond going for the edgy laugh. They serve as a setup for the type of guy that Guy is and, while I concede that all the horribly offensive stuff he said was still hilarious, it becomes funnier and actually meaningful when you realize WHY he is saying such things and acting like such a huge dick.
|Here's a hint to the reasons for such dickery.|
Once the credits hit, one of the things I felt were the strongest aspect the film had going for it was the fact that Guy Trilby actually has a reason for doing this stunt…and it was a good one. Had this been an Adam Sandler film, the motive would have been a bet between him and a character played by Nick Swardson or, by doing it, he would have got a treasure map to find the Lost Kingdom of the Farts or some bullshit. Instead, there’s a reason for Guy Trilby’s actions and it has character building elements to it and it creates drama in the comedy world of a guy in a kid’s spelling bee. I won’t spoil why he does what he does but I will say this…it involves pirate ghosts.
Or does it?
Actually, no it doesn’t. But it still was a good motive.
|Kathryn Hahn is kinda hit-or-miss with me. In this film, she was a HIT!|
As funny as I found this movie (and I found it hi-fucking-larious), the film was also fantastic with its drama and the touching, sweet friendship that forms between Bateman and Chand’s characters. Both individuals are already giving off great and humorous performances the entire film but there was definitely a great chemistry between Bateman and Chand and that chemistry really sold their blooming, insult-laden friendship. Just like the drama that came from the “Why?” of Trilby’s antics, the friendship made the film more than just a silly comedy meant to get in some Fuck-bombs tossed out at a kid event.
|Frab--wut? Is that even a real word?|
Finally, I really enjoyed Bateman’s directorial debut. Bateman really knew how to work the camera and give the film a feel that was more than just a “Point there and film” aspect. There were quite a few times that Bateman had some great dynamic camera angles that kept the film flowing in a way that never allows the film to get static or slow down. Additionally, Bateman really uses color quite well as the film is never bright and shiny and it’s kept very dull in order to show that this isn’t just some slapstick, silly film.
|I was going to post a picture that showed an example of Bateman's visual|
style for the film but, instead, I settled on him and the kid eating at a
hot dog joint. I'd say that about equals out...for some reason.
Bad Words is far wittier, far smarter (and I mean that beyond the fact that I literally had no idea what some of the words that were being spelled in the movie even were), and far more dramatic than I thought it was. The film is a great directorial debut from Bateman but it’s also hysterical and it has Bateman in a role that I’ve never seen from him before and he does it awesomely! This movie could easily offend the casual viewer but when you see it for what it is trying to be, you might find it to be an honestly hilarious film...unless it really offends you. Then you are probably pissed off at it and pissed at me for thinking you might like it.