Bad Words

Critics Consensus

Scabrously funny and gleefully amoral, Bad Words boasts one of Jason Bateman's best performances -- and proves he's a talented director in the bargain.

65%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 136

61%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 28,408

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Movie Info

Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman), a 40-year-old misanthrope, makes waves at a regional spelling bee when, due to a loophole in the rules, he is allowed to enter -- and later wins. Hurling insults at every turn, Guy advances to the national contest in Los Angeles, accompanied by a reporter (Kathryn Hahn) who wants to discover his hidden motives for entering the bee. As the competition gears up, friendless Guy inexplicably forms a bond with a young speller who is feeling parental pressure to win.

Cast & Crew

Kathryn Hahn
Jenny Widgeon
Rohan Chand
Chaitanya Chopra
Allison Janney
Dr. Bernice Deagan
Ben Falcone
Pete Fowler
Anjul Nigam
Sriram Chopra
Bob Stephenson
Bill Murhoff
Matthew Zhang
Braden Aftergood
Andrew Dodge
Screenwriter
Ted Hamm
Executive Producer
James Garavente
Executive Producer
Darren M. Demetre
Executive Producer
Ken Seng
Cinematographer
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News & Interviews for Bad Words

Critic Reviews for Bad Words

All Critics (136) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (89) | Rotten (47)

Audience Reviews for Bad Words

  • Dec 30, 2015
    Bateman's directorial debut didn't have too much fanfare attached, but that's been the case for the comedic actor, lately. Since Bateman's fame has grown with the cult following of "Arrested Development", and his turns in commercially viable faire like "Horrible Bosses" and "Couples Retreat." Still, he's not the one you go to, to head a giant comedy blockbuster like you would with Rogen, Hill, or the gals from "Bridesmaids." Lately he has been making films that are genuinely dark and grotesque, and sometimes they have a feeling of being an indie without actually being one. The script comes from Andrew Dodge, and was featured on the Hollywood Blacklist of 2011. It's easy to see why when you meet the lead character, Guy, who is the ultimate definition of a curmudgeon. He says horrible things to his reporter comrade Jenny (Hahn), other contestants (who are all children), women, passerby, and even the head of the spelling bee he is competing in. The premise is obviously great for laughs, but the real star of the film is sweet little Rohan Chand as Chaitanya Chopra, a precocious nine year old who just wants to be a friend to this middle aged man , who he is competing against. Between his wide, glassy eyed stare, his squeaky, cute voice, and his adept delivery of each punchline, he is the perfect comedic sidekick to Bateman's antics. Though the dark humor is great, occasionally it feels too forced. Reportedly Bateman and Dodge worked on the screenplay extensively because it sometimes went too far. I can only imagine what that means, since there's already course language, feces being plopped on a hotel clerk's desk, and a child meeting his first prostitute. The question isn't whether this goes too far, or course, but if it does a good job of showing character development and is genuinely funny and it is and does. In the ending scenes I felt something for Guy Trilby, though Bateman did a great job of making him the least likable character of the entire film. This is a troubled little gem of a film, but it is duly enjoyable and educational. You learn about the power of words, the competition involved in spelling bees, and how piteous hateful people truly are. While this film received mixed reviews, I would recommend it to anyone who likes dark, off-color comedies. If nothing else watch for Chopra's performance, which is both the cutest and creepiest example of a child actor latching to the material I have ever seen.
    Spencer S Super Reviewer
  • Jul 08, 2015
    Jason Bateman's directorial debut is a surprise, and in a good way, because its the best thing I've seen him in in awhile. And its one of those films that inspire you to spend time actually thinking of ways to verbally decimate the deserving because the film is so good at it. The premise, that of a 40 year old joining a spelling bee and "in it to win it", ultimately is lame-o and doesn't hold thought or water, but the execution is wonderful, as well as the contemplations on our relationships with dear old dad. The piece is entirely politically incorrect. You should know that. Prepare to be offended. But I loved it anyhow. Kathryn Hahn is a stand out! Alison Janney! And Rohan Chand. DON'T LOOK AT ME.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 29, 2014
    A delirious performance by Jason Batemen, a hilariously crass script and an impressively meaningful narrative imbue Bad Words with more ingenuity and character than anyone could have expected. A riotously funny, emotionally fulfilling ride.
    Isaac H Super Reviewer
  • Sep 24, 2014
    Jason Bateman turns in a pretty enjoyable performance as both director and star in 'Bad Words'. It's nice seeing something a bit different with the spelling bee being the main environment for this film. It offers up new comedy bits and jokes we haven't heard before, but unfortunately, Bateman also relies heavily on the bad words, pun intended, to move most of those jokes. Hearing it from the little kid provokes a chuckle, and the relationship between the kid and Bateman is nicer than you think it would be. Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, and Philip Baker Hall add a little heft to the cast, which is nice that it wasn't all no names or filled entirely with children. Some of the pranks were pretty good, but there was a fine line between being downright evil compared to mean but still laughable. Overall, most may think this is a knock on the institution of spelling bees in general, but other than making fun of the idea, it really didn't seem like the overall point of the film.
    Lane Z Super Reviewer

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