Metascore
57

Mixed or average reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 36
  2. Negative: 9 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Mar 12, 2014
    91
    Bateman deserves props for sustaining Bad Words as a little balancing act between sulfurously funny hatred and humanity.
  2. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Mar 19, 2014
    88
    Bad Words is the kind of pitch-black dark comedy that makes you wince even as you give up on stifling the chuckles.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Mar 13, 2014
    88
    Bad Words, starring Jason Bateman in a tour de force of comic wickedness, takes sinful pleasure in rubbing our noses in the toxic joys of revenge.
  4. Reviewed by: Drew McWeeny
    Apr 18, 2014
    83
    [Bateman] proves himself just as comfortable behind the camera as he in in front of it, and "Bad Words" is very, very good as a result.
  5. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Mar 14, 2014
    83
    Bad Words does to spelling bees what “Bad Santa” did to Santa Claus.
  6. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Mar 13, 2014
    80
    Sarcastic, sanctimonious, salacious, sly, slight and surprisingly sweet, the black comedy of Bad Words, starring and directed by Jason Bateman, is high-minded, foul-mouthed good nonsense.
  7. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Dec 12, 2013
    80
    Choosing it for his debut as director, Bateman demonstrates the same knack for timing and fine shadings of attitude as he does onscreen.
  8. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Sep 14, 2013
    80
    This exuberantly foul-mouthed and mean-spirited comedy goes somewhat soft in the final stretch but remains an often uproarious model of sharp scripting and spirited acting.
  9. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Mar 20, 2014
    75
    Bad Words isn't an entirely auspicious beginning to Bateman's career behind the camera, but a riotous performance suggests what a wonderful louse he can be.
  10. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Mar 20, 2014
    75
    Bad Words is often very funny, thanks to Bateman’s brick-wall malevolence and screenwriter Andrew Dodge’s inventively rude dialogue.
  11. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Mar 12, 2014
    75
    Although the going is so sluggish at times that the film often looks like it needs artificial respiration, stick it out. The end result is oddly entertaining.
  12. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Mar 12, 2014
    75
    The film is full of sharp observations about academic contests today, with Tiger Moms and tough-love Dads browbeating the kids from the wings. The ending is kind of a tap-out, but Bateman keeps this clipping along, maintaining the mean streak and potty mouth that makes Bad Words the dirtiest and funniest comedy of the new year.
  13. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Mar 20, 2014
    70
    Where this falls on your personal line between funny and abusive may vary. Either way, what makes the comedy work is that Bateman doesn't relent. Guy is, simply, a loathsome person.
  14. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Mar 13, 2014
    70
    It would be something to see Mr. Bateman go authentically dark (perhaps not that dark), but it’s also enough just to watch him as he widens his eyes, furrows his brow and shows off his excellent timing.
  15. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Sep 14, 2013
    68
    While Bad Words is a little too dopey to take seriously, this is compensated for with a handful of truly amusing sequences.
  16. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Mar 19, 2014
    67
    Although Bad Words never quite achieves Bad Santa’s level of misanthropy, the movie is chock-full of racist, sexist, and generally antisocial barbs – not to mention a slew of bad words.
  17. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Mar 12, 2014
    67
    Even when Bad Words is bad in the wrong way, it tends to be bad in the right way, too.
  18. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Sep 14, 2013
    67
    It's less of a showcase for Bateman's ability to direct comedic storytelling than simply to make people laugh, which makes Bad Words a sufficiently vulgar playground.
  19. Reviewed by: Stephanie Merry
    Mar 20, 2014
    63
    Although his character might be a one-trick pony, Bateman’s directing proves he’s got skills to spare.
  20. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Mar 20, 2014
    63
    There's no debating that Bad Words contains some big, politically incorrect laughs. The movie isn't awash in them but there are enough to keep the chuckles coming. The film's problem is that, despite obvious aspirations to be more than just a profane joke factory, it never fulfills its dramatic ambitions.
  21. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Mar 17, 2014
    60
    The film itself is uneven, but it’s kind of awesome seeing Bateman act so vile.
  22. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Mar 13, 2014
    60
    For his directorial debut, Bateman returns to his bad-boy beginnings. And the results are predictably amusing.
  23. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Mar 11, 2014
    60
    Bad Words soars in the bits of riotously offensive chitchat between Guy and a young Indian hopeful (Rohan Chand); it wobbles in plot developments involving the effortlessly starchy Allison Janney as the contest’s “queen bee”; and it splats in the I’m-secretly-hurting conclusion.
  24. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Mar 20, 2014
    50
    In a movie that strives to offend with every spat profanity and cruel insult, the most shocking thing about Bad Words is that it expects us to care about its main character at all.
  25. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Mar 13, 2014
    50
    Nearly everything good about Bad Words plays off the yin-and-yang dynamic between Guy and Chaitanya—one an endless wellspring of belligerence, the other grinning, excitable, and impossible to rattle.
  26. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Mar 28, 2014
    40
    The problems here are more with the story, which, even at just 89 minutes, feels a touch repetitive at times.
  27. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Mar 13, 2014
    40
    Bad Words seems to be heading into the creepy realm of a sociopath’s case study, yet it’s presented as a breezy satire about a rebel against the system. It must be the Dictionary-Industrious Complex.
  28. Reviewed by: Christy Lemire
    Mar 14, 2014
    38
    A little bit of nuance, which might seem out of place in such raunchy environs, actually goes a long way.
  29. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Mar 13, 2014
    38
    It's tough to summon sufficiently negative language to describe the unfunny, desperate mess that is Bad Words.
  30. Reviewed by: Chris Cabin
    Mar 8, 2014
    38
    The meager comeuppance and hasty notes of sweetness that end the film feel pre-approved rather than organically realized.
  31. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Mar 13, 2014
    30
    For precursors of Guy's perversity, one would have to go back to W.C. Fields, who made antic art out of his characters' abhorrence of children.
  32. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Mar 11, 2014
    30
    Bateman, as both director and star, digs his heels in too hard to make the movie's points, using lots of ho-hum close-ups and wriggly camera work along the way.
  33. Reviewed by: Robert Everett Green
    Mar 27, 2014
    25
    The laughs in this film are all mean-spirited or just frat-boy gross.
  34. Reviewed by: Peter Keough
    Mar 20, 2014
    25
    Misogynistic, homophobic, scatological — none of these words come up in any of the spelling bees that take place in Jason Bateman’s directorial debut, but they apply to the film.
  35. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Mar 13, 2014
    25
    A young Jack Nicholson might have pulled this off, but Jason Bateman is not Jack Nicholson. Pity the actor who thinks he’s edgier than he actually is.
  36. Reviewed by: Kevin Jagernauth
    Sep 14, 2013
    25
    Bad Words wants so desperately to be funny that there isn't much time left to make any logic out of the story.
User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 62 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 16
  2. Negative: 3 out of 16
  1. Jun 24, 2014
    4
    Was surprised this was Bateman's first film he has directed. None the less the story line is pretty uninspired and predictable. Old man vs 10 year old in spelling bees......they develop a feidnship of sorts..........gee, what will happen. Was looking forward to over the top things by bateman's character but left disappointed. So whats the upside of this flick, the 10 year old. although he doesn't act much he adds an element worth seeing......once. Full Review »
  2. Jun 14, 2014
    3
    Not a really good movie behind all that hype. Silly, trying to be serious but plays for laughs that hardly exist. Entertaining? Sure it is, but completely forgettable with positive messages that manage to not be fully delivered. Full Review »
  3. May 12, 2014
    0
    It is desperately trying to be funny and does not care about the story at all. The laughs in this film are all mean-spirited or just frat-boy gross. Last but not least the movie gives some of the most annoying characters on the big screen. Full Review »