BAD WORDS - *** (89 minutes)
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Guy Trilby is 40 years-old and harboring a deep seated grudge-with a plan for revenge that will stomp on the spelling bee dreams of kids and their parents like a herd of rampaging elephants . We are first introduced to Guy as he is about to join a bevy of contestants vying to win a regional spelling bee contest. Although blessed with a photographic memory, his failure to pass the eighth grade is the loophole that allows him to compete.
Along for the ride is a reporter (played hilariously by Kathryn Hahn) who is determined to get to the bottom of Guy's motives-even falling into a sexual relationship when everyday chit-chat fails to get him to reveal his rationale for her story. (Their intimate encounters are among the movie's most amusing moments.)
Although this revelation isn't revealed until the somewhat sappy final reel, the majority of this dark biting comedy is Guy's modus operandi as someone who has total disdain for children and his utter lack of respect for adults and institutions. Everything politically incorrect is fair game for the foul-mouthed Guy as he proceeds to flatten his competition on his journey to the PBS-televised national Golden Quill competition.
First-time director Jason Bateman shows admirable skill behind the camera while adeptly portraying the lead character with great comic timing and effective understated delivery. His supporting cast is superb-including the aforementioned Kathryn Kahn, Allison Janey who is in charge of the Golden Quill competition, the wonderful Philip Baker Hall who plays the founding father of the competition, and Rohan Chand as an Indian 10-year-old (whom Guy calls Slumdog) who is the only character that softens the vulgar protagonist. And first-time screenwriter Andrew Dodge shows solid future promise penning a script that has many more hits than misses.
Although that final reel falls short of what preceded it, the 89 minutes will entertainingly fly by. However, if you are easily offended and/or disgusted by foul mouthed children, an adult introducing liquor and sex to a pre-teen, or anything remotely inappropriate then by all means look for the nearest Disney flick. Otherwise, meet Guy Trilby, a dude who makes Billy Bob Thornton's character in Bad Santa seem like Mr. Rogers.
UP NEXT: Bowie MD director Mike Flanagan's horror film Oculus
Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman) sneers at his competition
Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn) tries to get to the bottom
of Guy's story