SXSW Review: Jason Bateman’s ‘Bad Words’


I like it when name actors diversify themselves. Yeah, you’ll see a lot of them named as “producers” on the credits from time to time, but mostly that’s just a hollow credit. When someone set’s out to direct though, that’s the real deal. It takes huge cojones to put yourself out there, especially someone who’s got a good streak on their hands, like Jason Bateman does.

And it always makes me happy to say that said actor has done a fine job in his newest endeavor. Bateman, who is making his feature directorial debut with Bad Words, has made a worthy film that’ll make you laugh your ass off.

He plays Guy Trilby, an angry and bitter 40-year-old, who has made it his mission to win The Golden Quill. What’s The Golden Quill, you ask? Why, it’s a National Spelling Bee. For 8th Graders.

Trilby, who will do anything to win the contest, has found a loophole in the rulebook and has decided to wreak havoc on the competition, it’s officials and the participating students.

Along for the ride is a reporter (Kathryn Hahn), who tracks his every moves (and then some) to try and figure out his true motivation. As the story heats up, Guy starts to form a friendship with his strongest competitor, the cutest and smartest kid around, Chaitanya (Rohan Chand).

There are some truly funny moments and the crowd at SXSW ate it up. The film actually reminded me of Bad Santa, still hysterical but with way more heart. You actually understand why Bateman’s Trilby is such a jackass and you kind of feel for him. Do you forgive him for all the mayhem he’s caused? Nope. But you understand.

The movie is really about him and Chaitanya though. I usually loathe children in films but young Chand is terrific. With all the cruel things Trilby hurls at him, you don’t feel sorry for his character at all. Oddly enough, it sort of empowers him. It makes him stronger because it just rolls off of him and towards the end, Trilby see’s himself in the kid.

As an actor, I’ve always liked Bateman’s humor and his choices in comedies. He’s got a way of underplaying things that makes a scene 10-times funnier. As a director, he’s kept his comedic sensibilities and edge, and didn’t go for any cheap laughs. It’s got some flaws, yeah, but for a first time director, he killed it. Check it out when it opens because I’m betting you’ll enjoy yourself.

Director: Jason Bateman

Screenwriter: Andrew Dodge

Cast: Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Rohan Chand, Philip Baker Hall, Allison Janney

Leave a Reply
Matthew McConaughey Reveals How He Came Up With His Catchphrase, ‘Alright, alright, alright!’
"My character, David Wooderson, he has three lines in the entire film. Alright, but one of those lines is what I like to call a launch pad line." - Matthew McConaughey
Jennifer Jason Leigh on ‘The Hateful Eight’, Quentin Tarantino and Playing People in “Extreme Circumstances”
Jennifer Jason Leigh: "I think that's an incredible thing that we can do as actors—to feel empathy toward someone that you may otherwise detest, you know?”
Ian McKellen on Working with Child Actors and How He Transitioned from a Stage Actor to a Screen Actor
"And I think when I decided to become professional, my only aim, really, was to get better as an actor." - Ian McKellen
New ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ Star Tyler Lea on Taking Over from a Tony Award Winner
"I haven't done a whole lot. This is my first huge thing. This is my first bite. I was waiting it out and then I caught a really, really big fish." - Tyler Lea
Master of None’s Noël Wells Talks Positive Attitudes and Having Nothing To Lose
Noel Wells starring role alongside Aziz Ansari in his Netflix series, Master of None, has audiences in stitches
// BLOCK AD BLOCK SNIPPET Place this code snippet near the footer of your page before the close of the /body tag