Jason Bateman directs and stars in this outrageously funny comedy about a 40-year-old who finds a loophole in the rules of a national spelling bee and decides to enter.
Jason Bateman makes his feature directorial debut with the subversive comedy, Bad Words. Bateman stars as Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old who finds a loophole in the rules of The Golden Quill national spelling bee and decides to cause trouble by hijacking the competition. Contest officials, outraged parents, and overly ambitious 8th graders are no match for Guy, as he ruthlessly crushes their dreams of victory and fame. As a reporter (Kathryn Hahn) attempts to discover his true motivation, Guy finds himself forging an unlikely alliance with a competitor: awkward 10-year-old Chaitanya (Rohan Chand), who is completely unfazed by Guy's take-no-prisoners approach to life. Critics rave, Bad Words is "the funniest, smartest, most entertaining comedy in a long time!" (Pete Hammond, Movieline)
Duration1 h 28 min
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130 critic reviews
28,365 user reviews
4/3/2014 by Wesley Morris
I didn't like anything about the movie before discovering what Guy is up to. I actively hated it after I figured out what was actually going on.
Globe and Mail
3/28/2014 by Robert Everett-Green
The laughs in this film are all mean-spirited or just frat-boy gross.
3/27/2014 by Peter Howell
Almost unrelenting in its takedown both of an American institution and the country's obsession with victories big and small, Bad Words is more misanthropic fantasy than satiric fiction.
3/27/2014 by J. R. Jones
Trashy, ribald laughs in the Bad Santa vein, this marks Bateman's directorial debut; it's not much to look at, but at least he has the nerve to push the insolence, profanity, and brutal insult humor to its absolute limits.
3/23/2014 by Rafer Guzman
In his directorial debut, Bateman casts himself as a foul-mouthed, racist jerk. It's a stretch for the nice-guy actor, but the role doesn't suit him.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
3/21/2014 by Colin Covert
While Bad Words is only sporadically funny, Bateman throws himself into the role without shame or ego. The film is also his directing debut, and a very capable one.
3/21/2014 by Tom Long
This is twisted, funny stuff.
3/21/2014 by David Hiltbrand
Go see Bad Words for its breathtakingly wicked setup. Just be aware the spell wears off.
San Francisco Chronicle
3/20/2014 by Mick LaSalle
At heart, Bad Words is a nice little concoction about a fellow walking around with a deep emotional wound, who heals it, not by confronting the source of his troubles, but by healing a similar wound in someone else.
3/20/2014 by James Berardinelli
The film's problem is that, despite obvious aspirations to be more than just a profane joke factory, it never fulfills its dramatic ambitions.
3/20/2014 by Peter Keough
It's nasty enough, but it isn't so much funny as it is pathological.
3/20/2014 by Stephanie Merry
Bateman, who's so often the put-upon straight man, really stretches himself here. His deadpan delivery works just as well in the role of a wicked antihero as it does when he plays Michael Bluth in "Arrested Development."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
3/20/2014 by Joe Williams
Bateman is already a star pupil of comedy, and he could earn an honor's diploma in filmmaking if he learns to spell singularity.
3/20/2014 by Bill Goodykoontz
What makes the comedy work is that Bateman doesn't relent. Guy is, simply, a loathsome person.
3/20/2014 by Moira MacDonald
It's over long before it's over, by the time you start wishing that a few of the dogs from "Best in Show" would show up; a one-note comedy, pounded with a hammer and left flat.
Christian Science Monitor
3/14/2014 by Peter Rainer
Directed by Bateman in his first solo effort and written by Andrew Dodge, the film is an irreverant jape with its fair share of standout comic performances.
3/14/2014 by Christy Lemire
Once we understand what's driving Guy, the revelation is airless: It feels like too little, too late. Now we're supposed to care about whether he has feelings?
New York Magazine/Vulture
3/14/2014 by Bilge Ebiri
The film is at its best when it's hovering aimlessly without any apparent purpose in the world of this embittered, misanthropic little man.
3/14/2014 by Stephen Whitty
"Bad Words" serves, at least, as proof that Bateman can do a variety of parts, and direct a smart economical comedy - and if Hollywood is as smart and economical, it will give him the chance again.
New York Times
3/13/2014 by Manohla Dargis
The performances are funny, appealing and, in the case of Allison Janney, as a spelling bee official, wonderful.
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