An adult, who has been a school dropout, finds a loophole in the regulations and participates in the largest spelling bee in the USA, The Golden Quill. His aim is to take revenge for something done to him in the past. Written by
The second film to star both Jason Bateman and Alison Janey. They started in Juno although they didn't share screen time. Jason Bateman and Kathryn Hahn would later go on and star together again in This Is Where I Leave You. See more »
The only accepted format in a spelling bee is for a contestant to repeat their word, spell it, and announce it again. But when Guy Trilby is called in round 2 to spell Floccinaucinihilipilification, he simply spells the word and, once told he is correct, exits the podium and returns to his seat. In fact, this happens more than once in the film. See more »
TIFF Review: Bad Words, Night Film Reviews www.nightfilmreviews.com
It's very rare that I find myself lost in the narrative, characters and the comedy that I forget altogether that I am watching a movie intent on criticizing it. Jason Bateman's (Horrible Bosses, Up In the Air) directorial debut Bad Words did just thatallow me to lose myself to laugh so hard with such shocking moments that I almost forgot I had to review the film.
Bad Words is a short, sweet and unexpectedly dark comedy with instances of pure vulgarity and vileness that is at the same time, heartwarmingyes, you read that right.
For one, Bad Words was the first ever straight-up comedy I have ever experienced at TIFF. Of course, so many movies have heavy comedic instances, but I can assure you, Bad Words will have you laughing so hard, that at times, you'll find it hard to hear the next bit of dialogue (I'm warning you from experience).
The film opens with unexplained genius Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman) entering himself in a regional spelling bee, with a brief flashback explaining how he has been able to register legally. From the moment the movie starts, Bateman has the audience in tears and on the floor laughing, winning the regional bee sending him off to the national bee, in hot pursuit of all the angry parents and students who he beat at the regionals. Once Bateman makes it to the super bowl of spelling bees, The Golden Quill, along with his travelling documenting reporter (Kathryn Hahn, We're The Millers), hilarity and vulgarity ensue.
The mystery behind Trilby's anger with the world, constant bitterness and his obsession with winning the bee is at the centre of the film, along with his inability to allow anyone get close enough for him to care, drive the narrative. The blend of Bateman's dark direction and stylistic choices, along with screenwriter Andrew Dodge's fiercely morbid dialogue allow for the experience to be natural and so unexpected.
I have no idea if either Bateman or Dodge were inspired at all with the work of Bobcat Goldthwait (World's Greatest Dad, God Bless America) and his darkly satirical body of work, but if I was told that was another addition to that list of black comedy, I would not doubt it. The envelope is constantly being pushed in Bad Words. Each character Trilby interacts with, whether it be for an extended period of time, or just shortly, Bateman nails each and every scene with a natural sense of arrogance. Trilby's scenes with "slumdog" (Rohan Chand), a lonely prostitute on the street, or a victimized man going to a washroom stall, are some of the best in the film.
Bateman undoubtedly has a keen eye for comedy. Rude, crude and sometimes completely uncalled for, Bad Words was a pleasant change of pace during TIFF and surely one of the most memorable comedies of the year.
Expect Bad Words in a theatre near you. And the only thing bad about it, is how much you will find yourself laughing at the most inappropriate things, da*#it!
Night Film Reviews: 7.5/10 Stars
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