Bad Words


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.



Total Count: 131


Audience Score

User Ratings: 28,383
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Movie Info

Jason Bateman makes his feature directorial debut with the subversive comedy Bad Words. Mr. Bateman stars as Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old who finds a loophole in the rules of The Golden Quill national spelling bee and decides to cause trouble by hijacking the competition. Contest officials, outraged parents, and overly ambitious 8th graders are no match for Guy, as he ruthlessly crushes their dreams of victory and fame. As a reporter (Kathryn Hahn of We're the Millers) attempts to discover his true motivation, Guy finds himself forging an unlikely alliance with a competitor: awkward 10-year-old Chaitanya (Rohan Chand of Homeland), who is completely unfazed by Guy's take-no-prisoners approach to life. (c) Focus


Jason Bateman
as Guy Trilby
Kathryn Hahn
as Jenny Widgeon
Rohan Chand
as Chaitanya
Allison Janney
as Dr. Bernice Deagan
Ben Falcone
as Pete Fowler
Rachael Harris
as Eric Tai's Mother
Judith Hoag
as Petal Dubois
Beth Grant
as Bedazzled Judge
Steve Witting
as Proctor at Spelling Bee
Gwen Parden
as Brace-Faced Girl
Anjul Nigam
as Siriam Chopra
Allan Miller
as Bald Glasses Judge
Bob Stephenson
as Bill Murhoff
Matthew Zhang
as Braden Aftergood
Madison Hu
as Ling Quan
Michael Patrick McGill
as Beet Red Father
Mychael Bates
as Lobster Man
Greg Cromer
as Jeremy "FBI Agent"
Ethan Dizon
as Ricky Irvine
Jacquie Barnbrook
as Joyce Sacks' Mom
Mak Krikscuin
as Mickey Carlson
Sofia Nam
as Jayleen Song
Lucky Davis
as Leonard Feldman
Amanda Anka
as National Public Television Narrator
Tanner Goad
as Kid #1 on Bike
Gregory Sutton
as Irate Driver
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News & Interviews for Bad Words

Critic Reviews for Bad Words

All Critics (131) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (87) | Rotten (44)

  • I didn't like anything about the movie before discovering what Guy is up to. I actively hated it after I figured out what was actually going on.

    Apr 3, 2014 | Full Review…
  • The laughs in this film are all mean-spirited or just frat-boy gross.

    Mar 28, 2014 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…
  • Almost unrelenting in its takedown both of an American institution and the country's obsession with victories big and small, Bad Words is more misanthropic fantasy than satiric fiction.

    Mar 27, 2014 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Trashy, ribald laughs in the Bad Santa vein, this marks Bateman's directorial debut; it's not much to look at, but at least he has the nerve to push the insolence, profanity, and brutal insult humor to its absolute limits.

    Mar 27, 2014 | Full Review…
  • In his directorial debut, Bateman casts himself as a foul-mouthed, racist jerk. It's a stretch for the nice-guy actor, but the role doesn't suit him.

    Mar 23, 2014 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

    Rafer Guzman

    Top Critic
  • This is twisted, funny stuff.

    Mar 21, 2014 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic

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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