Starring: Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney
Director: Jason Bateman
Running Time: 89 mins
Bad Words is an American film about a 40 year-old man, still bitter from a loss in the eighth grade, who returns to take part and hopefully win the national school spelling bee, despite huge protests from parents and organisers alike.
This is a brilliantly foul-mouthed and offensive comedy, with constantly shocking humour throughout that won’t offend you so much as make you cry with laughter. What’s more is that at times it has an interesting and genuinely dramatic story that sits well within the dark comedy of it all, something rare to see in modern comedies.
Firstly, credit has to go to Jason Bateman on his directorial debut here, as he makes a fantastically hilarious film that looks great as well, with a depressing brown tinge to all shots, and with everything being set in industrial estates or a competition hall, whilst he manages to put in a sterling, energetic performance as this foul-mouthed bad loser who is constantly funny to watch, and when it comes to the dramatic parts, he’s still convincing and interesting.
The film starts off in the most shocking fashion, with this man ripping through a regional spelling bee hilariously brutally, and surprisingly, the film sustains that level of properly offensive comedy for a long time (at least half an hour), making that a brilliantly funny part of the film to watch.
And whilst the comedy takes a small dive towards more generic humour as the dramatic story comes into play, the emotion is surprisingly and convincingly hefty throughout the film, and perfectly interesting to follow along.
In the final act, however, there is the small problem that this film faces due to backing itself into a corner with the principal ‘sports movie’ story, where it comes down to the final of the spelling bee, and somebody’s got to win. Again, this deals with that in a relatively inventive way that makes for a few laughs, but there’s still just a little bit too much cheese there to be either as funny or as dramatic as the story that has come before, which was a little bit of a let-down.
Overall, this gets a 7.7, because of its fantastically funny and shocking comedy coupled with an interesting and emotional dramatic story that sits well within the dark atmosphere of this film.