Sunday, March 30, 2014

[Review] Bad Words

Jason Bateman stars in his directorial debut, Bad Words, a profane comedy about a 40-year-old guy who enters the National Spelling Bee by using a loophole. Guy (that's his name) is a jerk, but he knows his stuff. He keeps his questionable intentions a secret, but the premise is a bit too thin on intrigue to make us care where it's going.

On the flight to the Bee, Guy meets Chaitanya (Rohand Chand), a young kid (and a future spelling opponent) who is full of questions. Of course, Guy gets annoyed. The two keep bumping into each other and Guy eventually takes Chaitanya under his wing, but he isn't really the best role model (to put it lightly). You might be thinking that some of this seems remarkably familiar to Bad Santa, even down to half of the title. Coincidence or ode?

The problem with Bad Words is that it isn't funny enough to be an above average laugh piece, it isn't clever or sharp enough to work as a subversive comedy, and its serious side is too haphazard to fully resonate. The jokes are cheap and the lines fall flat, rendering the humor as a bland brand of crudeness, often seeming like an excuse to string together a bunch of long foul-mouthed insults. It all functions as setup for the film's redemptive/revenge plot, but this tale of two halves is only minor on both ends. Is there a word for that?


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