Oh… 'Bad Words' and its director Jason
Bateman… what are we to make of you? So Jason's my guy,
right? I mean we're the same age, we grew up together…
in a way… I mean I watched 'It's Your Move' back in the day
and for my money Jason Bateman is the best straight man in the
history of cinema and television. Well, maybe that's
just a 'bit' of an overstatement, but nonetheless, Jason is my
guy. So now we have 'Bad Words', Jason Bateman's feature
film directorial debut, and it is funny. And really,
really mean. But of course that's the whole point of the
movie. But just because one 'get's it', doesn't make it
any easier to reconcile with it.
Guy Trilby (Bateman) is one really angry dude. On this
day, we see Guy at a spelling bee populated by ten year
olds. He narrates for us, letting us know that he's
aware that he's a terrible person who makes terrible life
decisions, but whaddayagonnado? The parents at this bee
thinks the forty year old is there to support his kid, but
nope, he's there to compete. Why is this old guy
verbally abusing ten year olds and upsetting parents to the
point that they look like they want to lynch him? In
Guy's plan is to make it the National Spelling Bee, so he has
reporter Jenny (Kathryn Hahn) along who is recording his story
and funding this little adventure. Occasionally, they
also have sex. Not sure why. Perhaps a woman could
explain to me why she or perhaps a fellow sister of hers will
lay it down for a dude who is mean, callous, unfeeling, has no
redeeming social value that I can see, and isn't all that
cute. I guess. I'm not sure about that one
either. I guess I'd need help on that too.
Illuminate me ladies.
Guy and Jenny catch a plane to the
spelling bee finals, and Guy is soon befriended, against his
will, by the impossibly adorable ten year old Chaitanya (Rohan
Chand), a boy so cute that it wouldn't surprise me if he was
actually a little girl. During the day, Guy is greatly
upsetting the spelling bee
brass, such its director Dr. Deagan (Allison
Janney) and its founder Dr. Bowman (Phillip Baker Hall) by
skirting around their rules, in the early evenings he's having
really uncomfortable sex with Jenny, but late at night he's
having crazy inappropriate and illegal adventures with
Chitanya. Nothing freaky, or at least anything involving
man / boy love… but crazy inappropriate.
But why is Guy doing this? Why is he so nasty? Why
is he so mean? Clearly my man is upset at somebody but
is destroying the psyche of an eleven year old girl really
necessary to achieve this means? Probably not, but
that's Guy Trilby for you.
As we mentioned, this is Jason Bateman's directorial
debut. Clearly, spending a lifetime in front of the
camera, largely in comedies of some sort, we can tell that
Jason was paying attention most of the time to what was going
on behind the camera. I'd ask him why he couldn't find a
part for his sister Justine, but I'm sure a large portion of
Jason's life went along lines of 'Hey Jason… uh… where's your
sister?' and he just didn't want to deal with that on this
shoot. What we are saying here is that 'Bad Words' is
funny. Very funny at times. This is a comedy, the
object of a comedy is to make you laugh, and at least in
regards to me, at the end of this day, 'Bad Words' was a
success. The movie is also perfect Jason Bateman.
Anyone who has watched Mr. Bateman work over the years knows
he has unique style and delivery, a special dryness to his
comedic offerings, and the director seemed to completely be in
tune with what his star does best.
But my goodness is this movie mean spirited. Jason
Bateman is an appealing and charming actor, but even he…and
all of the sappy endings in the world… can't rescue Guy
Trilby. About halfway through the movie most people will
figure out why Guy is doing what he is doing, and Guy even
poses the question 'does the means justify the end'? and
the answer to that is 'no, not really'.
Since Guy is some sort of spelling savant, victory was pretty
much assured, so mentally abusing ten year olds to get them
out of the game probably wasn't necessary and as such it
wasn't really funny. Also along the same vein, plying up
on liquor, plying a ten year old up on liquor, shop lifting,
then jumping in a car to drive off to parts unknown also isn't
really funny. Showing a ten year old the giant breasts
of a prostitute… kind of funny. I know… it's a
movie… I just don't get it. Actually, I do. Guy is
screwed up, socially deficient, inflicts his pain on everybody
else around him. Some of the stuff he does probably
isn't even supposed to be funny. But the thing is you
can only remove yourself from the moment so far.
Drinking, then throwing a kid in a car and driving… that's
never going to be funny to me. I can't remove myself
from that and say, 'it's just a movie bro, loosen up'.
No, that's reality. And not a good one.
I know, we got all 'heavy' on you. My apologies.
But hey, 'Bad Words' is funny. Sometimes, however, we
didn't appreciate where the funny was trying to go.