“”Bad Words” Starts Out Amusingly, Before Becoming Uncomfortably Mean-Spirited And Icky.”
“Bad Words,” the is the debut of Jason Bateman as a feature film director. He also stars as Guy Trilby in a curious film that at first glance appears to be about an adult whom decides to compete in a children’s spelling bee.
And speaking of directing, Bateman initially comes off a bit shaky—during a conversation early on in the movie the camera switches angles a lot more than necessary. It feels as if he were trying to make a visually inert scene a little less so, though it mainly served to show that he’s not that comfortable behind the camera, though things settled down quickly enough.
If that were “Bad Words” worst problem, it would have been a triumphant turn. Instead the movie has to deal with an issue that the best camerawork in the world can’t fix.
And that’s that there are relatively few adults in this movie, no matter how old someone happens to be.
Because, for most adults, actions have consequences, while Trilby (Jason Bateman) has virtually none at all for his. Sure, there’s some grousing over the fact that he’s about 30 years too old to be participating in a spelling bee for children—which probably sounded funny on paper though in practice, not so much—yet no one seems the least bit concerned that an adult is spending an inordinate amount of time with a 10-year-old boy.
And sure, it’s a little nuts that a child was staying at a hotel alone so that he learns “responsibility”—yet for Guy Trilby to take advantage of that situation in some very unseemly ways is more than a little bit off-putting.
Because no matter how his character acts, he’s still an adult, and when as adult takes a child for a night on the town it seems a little…icky.