Actors trying out directing is something I find fascinating. In his directorial debut, Jason Bateman gives directing a try, and while this may not be the most notable debut for a actor-turned-director, it was a very unique and fun film.
Bateman has been cast usually as well-meaning and soft-spoken intellectuals. Therefore it came as no surprise that he decided to cast himself against type in his own film. Here he plays Guy Trillby, an obnoxious and foul-mouthed bastard with a penchant for causing trouble, and when he decides to enter a spelling bee, his main targets are his competition, which are incidentally little children. His pranks are both hilarious and cringe-worthy, exactly like his personality.
Like Bad Santa showed us a decade ago, there is no sacred ground when it comes to beloved childhood events. Like Bad Santa ripped apart Christmas, Bad Words equally destroyed the classic youthful rite of passage, the spelling bee, which hasn’t been entirely absent as the theme of movies, but are usually shown as inspiring, uplifting “sports” movies, which this is definitely not. While it is predictable throughout (you could see the ending coming from the moment the two protagonists became friends), but it is still a very funny film that is a biting satire of the respected institution of spelling bees.
Jason Bateman and the film’s young star Rohan Chand have an adorable chemistry, and carry the film’s thin premise. Large supporting roles by Allison Janney and Philip Baker Hall are very entertaining and give both underrated actors some great roles.
Bad Words may not be the greatest film ever made, but it is very funny and a very entertaining satire, and serves a great debut for rookie director Jason Bateman.