Jason Bateman in Bad Words

I didn’t really know what to expect going into Bad Words. I had seen the red-band trailer for it back when I went to see The Wolf of Wall Street in theaters. It had looked pretty funny, as even the trailer made me laugh hysterically. It was even more surprising, given the crude nature of the film, hearing that Jason Bateman not only stars in this movie; but he also directed it as well. Jason Bateman has never struck me as the crude kind of character actor so it was surprising to see him tackle this role. But did he succeed?

Bad Words is about Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman), a 40-year-old who finds a loophole in The Golden Quill national spelling bee contest and decides to wreck havoc by hijacking the competition. Guy is clearly not a nice guy and he has his issues. Contest officials, outraged parents, and even overly ambitious middle schoolers are no match for him, as he ruthlessly crushes their dreams of victory. While he is going through the competition, a reporter named Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn) is attempting to discover his true motivations behind all of his actions and even why he is joining this spelling bee in the first place. Along the way, Guy forms an unlikely alliance with one of his competitors; the awkward 10-year-old Chaitanya (Rohan Chand) who is completely unfazed by Guy’s take-no-prisoners approach to the spelling bee and life in general.

I’ll just start out by saying this movie is absolutely hilarious. It may not be the smartest movie you will ever see, but it definitely does comedy right. I will warn: the jokes are vulgar and crude; and maybe even sometimes offensive. But that just adds to flavor of the movie. Jason Bateman really hones in his role as the 40-year-old loser named Guy. It is Bateman who gets all of the best lines and jokes and he nails them all with brilliant comedic timing. This is a different character for Bateman. I’m used to seeing him do much smaller roles that don’t take much risk. He is probably most known for his role as Michael Bluth in Arrested Development, which also was a rather comedic role; just a different kind of comedy. That role was mostly situational comedy and just plain sarcasm. This movie requires him to be a terrible human being. And he plays it to perfection.

The story isn’t the most original of concepts and it is rather easy to see where this movie is going before the reporter character does, but that doesn’t prevent it from being enjoyable. At first, I thought this movie was going to focus more on Bateman’s character trying to really show Rohan Chand’s character what its like to be a man; a real man. I got that vibe from the trailer. Kind of a more vulgar version of the 2002 film, Roger Dodger. But it wasn’t. The movie had moments that were similar but it really never went in that direction. The scenes between Bateman and Chand were usually cute or hilarious. It was a nice little dynamic they had going on. Things did get a little out of control towards the end; maybe even a little over the top. But that is kind of expected in the comedy film territory.

The ending was mildly predictable, but the story didn’t come off as a highly original concept in the first place. This is a movie with a basic story that is elevated by the performances by the key players. Bateman is an unlikable dick who we still root for. Kathryn Hahn is the sweet but kind of “off” reporter and Rohan Chand is the cute and innocent 10-year-old who is a little too chipper for his own good. These three really knock it out of the park. The only downside is that I felt that Allison Janney’s character was kind of pointless at the end of the day. But overall, Bad Words was an uproariously funny movie with numerous quotable jokes. Those jokes just happen to be very crude. It is a crude movie with a good amount of heart in it. Bateman proves he can take risks, both in front of and behind the camera.


Jason Bateman as Guy Trilby
Kathryn Hahn as Jenny Widgeon
Rohan Chand as Chaitanya Chopra
Allison Janney as Dr. Bernice Deagon
Ben Falcone as Pete Fowler
Philip Baker Hall as Dr. Bowman


+: Jason Bateman is hilarious in his role. A risky move, considering his previous “safe” roles. A side of Jason Bateman you have yet to see; and its hilarious.

+: Rohan Chand was cute, adorable, and even funny in moments. He added a lot of heart to the movie full of crude laughs

+: Not much time passed in this movie where I wasn’t laughing. Almost brought me to tears in one part, I was laughing so hard. Vulgarity isn’t always a good thing in comedies. But it works here.

+: Decent story with added weight towards the end that actually has a good payoff.


-: Allison Janney’s limited screen time made her role seem rather pointless

-: Straightforward story that was easily predicted in the first ten minutes

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