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SXSW ’14 Review – “Bad Words”

March 16, 2014

Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 8.38.48 PMJason Bateman has been around Hollywood for most of his life, starting in TV as a child star, “Little House on the Prairie” & “Silver Spoons”, skimming through film in the 80s/90s, making his comeback stardom to TV with the beloved cult hit “Arrested Development”, then making it REALLY big in film, like “Horrible Bosses”.

Though to his credit Jason has only made it big mostly with supporting/scene stealing roles. He hasn’t had too many leading many roles, just take a look at his IMDb credits, his last major leading man performances was Mike Judges underwhelming “Extract”, to be fair I think that movie gets better with age (and its not that old of a film). Bateman decides to make a change, going right into directing, one may call it a reverse Ron Howard, for me, I see a very talented/funny man taking his comedy chops a mile farther.

The result? Not surprising, that is if you’re a fan of his, like myself; Bateman maintains the hypnotic, sarcastic, boyish charms that made him such a likable figure in the first place, even if he’s playing such an unlikeable character (at first). “Bad Words” follows the tale of 40-year-old asshole, Guy Trilby (Bateman) as he slithers his way into a national spelling bee meant for middle school children. This seemingly evil villain wants to make a mockery of the system, and for personal reasons. It may not be a just reason, but the establishment of his choices are interesting, to say the least.

What I liked most about the movie was the connection this man has with the younger demographic. He doesn’t talk to them or even treat them like kids; these are people he’s dealing with, people that are in his way from becoming the victor. And like any competition, it’s all about the intimidation game. Then in comes this kid named Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand), who’s depicted as the stereotypical Indian child prodigy, who wants nothing more than to befriend Guy. Guy and Chai are completely oil/water in this scenario, realistically, in the real world; their friendship should be cautioned at red flag levels. Clearly Guy is a terrible influence, but for a child that is so by the book and hasn’t found a way to blossom into a real person, Guy’s influences maybe the guide he needs into real world truths.

Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 8.39.01 PMThe twist regarding Guy’s reason for doing this whole thing in the first place is not very compelling or shocking, but I don’t think that’s what the movie is really about. For me, I see it as a film where childhood and adulthood collide, role reversals are played out, and then both come out a bit wiser and smarter than they were going into it. I’ll say this, Bateman has a knack for the dark comedic elements, if he continues to direct, I wouldn’t mind seeing more twisted comedies such as this one in the near future.

GRADE: B+

Aaron Shore, is a contributing blogger for the film sites of Hudak on Hollywood & Midnight Reviews.

You can follow Aaron on Twitter @DoubleAAProd

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