"What was your favorite word?"
Jason Bateman is a funny guy although his films are usually hit or miss with me. Bad Words was a miss. I just couldn't get into the premise of this film considering Bateman plays a 40 year old guy competing in the largest spelling bee competition in the USA against a bunch of young and intelligent kids. Sometimes these sort of ridiculous premises work extremely well in comedies, but this film was just too mean spirited and offensive for my taste. I didn't find any of the jokes funny and the relationships Bateman's character has with the people around him never felt believable. There is some mystery revolving around the main character's intention for entering this contest, but once it was revealed I didn't think it added anything to the movie. I will give some credit to Jason Bateman (who also directed this film) for casting himself against type considering he usually plays the nice guy and here he plays a hateful and racist character. I just didn't find any situation funny in Bad Words and I don't think we can call a film hilarious only for pushing the limits on swearing and calling kids and their parents names. Perhaps it was just not my type of comedy, but it never worked for me and I was disappointed with Bateman's directorial feature debut.
Kathryn Hahn plays the journalist who is supporting Bateman's character in the spelling bee competition. She knows the story will sell and since Bateman found a loophole in the competition needing a national journalist to back him up she willingly decides to help. The relationship between both characters is probably the weakest link in the film and I never found any of their interactions funny. Rohan Chand plays one of the competitors in the spelling bee who befriends Guy (Jason Bateman). At first Guy wants nothing to do with him, but pretty soon a relationship develops which turns out to be the heart and soul of this film. Chand plays a sympathetic character but I really wasn't too comfortable with his performance. Not even reliable actors like Allison Janney and Ben Falcone are given any opportunities to shine here. Perhaps I just wasn't in the mood for a comedy, but I don't remember laughing at any particular scene here. I did feel a bit uncomfortable with the strange relationships between each character and I simply found Bateman's Guy too hateful to want to spend more time watching him on screen.