“”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.
In fact, Trilby comes off as seriously demented—and not in a funny way—as he puts way too much effort into terrifying other children into quitting the bee.
The movie does have funny moments, but the power relationship between Trilby, as an adult, and the children is so lopsided that antics that would seem amusing when dealing with adults comes off really odd and off-putting when dealing with children.
I could understand it if his character were somehow mentally challenged—he almost comes off as a savant at times–but there’s little supporting evidence in the movie to show that that was the case.
Though there’s a method to Jason Trilby’s madness, so to speak, though it does little to explain the lengths he goes through to make his feelings known.
“Bad Words” feels like someone told Jason Bateman that he needed to be more edgy, and seeing they movies like “Bad Santa,” “Bad Teacher” and “Bad Grandpa” were successful, that he should more in that direction.
I wish that he hadn’t because you can see what “Bad Words” was trying to do, but it’s hard to be sympathetic with a person that’s willing to ruin a spelling bee because of an event that took place in his past, and had nothing to do with any of the children he took such perverse glee in sabotaging.
It’s almost as if I were to get mad at a close acquaintance, but instead of dealing with my problem at the source, I decided to torment everyone who was either a friend or acquaintance of the person that I actually had a problem with.
Sure, that’s one way to go about it, but it’s a awful dickish thing to do.
That being said, all would be forgiven if Trilby was such an ass AND the movie were outrageously funny.
Though he, and “Bad Words” aren’t.