“Bad Words”: Dark Comedy at its Finest


Focus Features

Jason Bateman and Rohan Chand both star in “Bad Words”

Jason Bateman is known for being in funny movies. He has starred in some of the funniest movies of our decade, from Tropic Thunder to Horrible Bosses. He is also the main character of Arrested Development, a comedy show that has won multiple Emmys but whose future is unknown.

So it was no surprise that Bateman’s newest movie, which he directed, a first for him, as well as starred in, was going to be funny. The surprising part of this movie was how dark the film was. Bateman did not hold back at all in Bad Words. From spreading ketchup on a girl’s seat to make her believe she has had her first period to buying a prostitute for a ten-year-old, Bateman used zero filters when deciding what goes in his movie.

The plot is a fairly clever one. Bateman’s character, Guy Trilby, is a 40-year-old who has not accomplished much in life. He finds a loophole in the rules of the National Quill Spelling Bee’s rules allowing him to participate because he never graduated eighth grade. Bateman proceeds to participate, making it all the way to the finals and satirizing the whole competition and its participants on the way. He makes fun of how serious the competition is and the parents that put all this pressure on their children to do well in it. He angers parents and the competition’s faculty, leading them to question his motives.

Reporter Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn) who acts as Trilby’s sponsor for the competition is determined to find the answer to the question, why would a 40-year old school dropout enter a competition of middle and elementary schoolers? The film has the audience guessing at this answer until the very end. Trilby and Widgeon also develop a sexual relationship.

Trilby makes another interesting relationship in this movie, and that is with fellow competitor Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand). Trilby is placed in a supplies closet while competing in the finals, and once he finds out that Chopra has a minibar in his room he befriends him. Chopra is a very sheltered, lonely kid, so when Trilby befriends him, he believes they are best friends.

Even though the reason Trilby originally befriends Chopra is for alcohol access, he also becomes closer to him and exposes him to things from which he was previously sheltered from. It is very clever and funny the way Trilby exposes a nerdy, shielded child to some of the more seedy parts of life. Chopra’s reaction to this exposure is even funnier and will make every parent believe that Trilby is the worst influence a child can have.

Bad Words is a clever, grotesque comedy that should not be missed. Bateman does not fail to impress in his directorial debut, which will hopefully be the first of many.  That being said, if you do not want to leave a movie feeling somewhat disgusted, this may not be the movie for you. Bad Words is a hilarious movie that shows off Bateman’s talents as both a director and an actor.