By the end of this review… I will undoubtably feel like a terrible person, and I could not care less.
Bad Words centers on Jason Bateman’s Guy Trilby, who is a solid contender for the single worst human being who has ever existed. At 40 years old, it’s a wonder that he has not been murdered for his vulgar, sociopathic candor. We find him on a hellbent mission to win the Golden Quill National Spelling Bee (through a loophole, he never graduated eighth grade despite his genius intellect), much to the chagrin of enraged parents, and his fellow contestants. Why is he doing this? Well, what would be the fun if I told you? Along the way, Trilby forms a reluctant, and corrupting bond with 10 Year Old Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand), all while dodging questions from reporter Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn) who tags along for the ride.
This movie is shockingly, and wonderfully unapologetic. Jason Bateman turns Guy Trilby into one of the more compelling characters I’ve seen in a comedy in years. He is absolutely, rocker off a cliff, disturbed. He tears through the system like a hot knife, without showing the slightest sign of giving a damn. At least, at first. While his absolutely brutal verbal, and mental assaults on kids, and parents alike, bring back memories of the man-child characters of yesteryear, the wonderfully sharp screenplay by first time writer Andrew Dodge never forgets to give him depth. He is there for a reason, and he stays focused on his task with robot-like precision, and one of the great joys of the movie is finding out why that is.
His bond with Chopra is one of the most loopy friendships seen on the big screen in quite some time, particularly on an alcohol, and boob fueled night out that will surly change the state of this innocent young boy’s mind forever. After all, once you learn that all women in fact, have nipples, there is no going back.
I took such a sick pleasure in watching Trilby exact his vengeance upon these poor, unsuspecting kids, and parents. Some of the things he does are truly, indisputably evil, it’s simply amazing the lengths this man will go to. You never know what is coming next.
Ultimately, my only issue with this film is that once we find out the big payoff as to why Trilby is doing this, it does not resonate as well as it should. It feels a little forced, and quite frankly, not enough to justify everything he has done throughout the movie.
Ultimately though, this movie is so much fun that even a slightly lame payoff can’t ruin it, especially considering the climax more than makes up for it. Jason Bateman, in his directorial debut has crafted a deranged, dark, and endlessly funny revenge fantasy against academia, and finally allows himself to step out of the uptight, straight man role he has been typecast in for so many years now. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I’d imagine that Guy Trilby doesn’t care for those people very much anyway.