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Mixed or average reviews - based on 36 Critics What's this?

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6.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 97 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , ,
  • Summary: Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman), a 40-year-old who finds a loophole in the rules of The Golden Quill national spelling bee, 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 crushesGuy Trilby (Jason Bateman), a 40-year-old who finds a loophole in the rules of The Golden Quill national spelling bee, 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. [Focus Features] Expand
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: Peter Rainer
    Mar 14, 2014
    83
    Bad Words does to spelling bees what “Bad Santa” did to Santa Claus.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

See all 36 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 31
  2. Negative: 6 out of 31
  1. Apr 6, 2014
    9
    Unfathomably well-trained direction and unceremoniously entertaining all throughout, Jason Bateman's directorial debut "Bad Words" is anUnfathomably well-trained direction and unceremoniously entertaining all throughout, Jason Bateman's directorial debut "Bad Words" is an ingenious, hilarious, and even occasionally heartwarming masterwork. Expand
  2. Aug 16, 2014
    8
    Good comedies are rare these days. Really, you can count the good ones from the last several years on your fingers with room to spare. This isGood comedies are rare these days. Really, you can count the good ones from the last several years on your fingers with room to spare. This is good mainly because it avoids the pitfall of most of the lousy comedies out there today — it refuses to go down the dreaded easy path of "goofy."
    Bad Words follows the lead of another under appreciated film, Young Adult (2011) with Charlize Theron. Both are centered on deeply damaged characters who quit the life that is no longer offering them anything and revert to a period that they (wrongly) assume to be a safe haven. In Young Adult Charlize Theron returns to the small town where she once was Queen of it all. Bateman's character in Bad Words steps back into the shoes of his 8th grade self that he's now much more prepared to handle.
    Expand
  3. Mar 28, 2014
    8
    This movie will easily offend anyone and everyone so dont go watch it if you are offended by racist and misogynistic jokes because they willThis movie will easily offend anyone and everyone so dont go watch it if you are offended by racist and misogynistic jokes because they will be there in great numbers. But if you can stomach the jokes and take it as comedy then you will have yourself a good time. We laughed a lot in the movie and most of the jokes are actually targeting south asian people (like me lol) but like i said, if you take it as a comedy and not personally then you will have yourself a good time. If not, then avoid it. Expand
  4. chw
    Oct 4, 2014
    6
    Jason Bateman picked an off film to use as his directorial debut in films. Bad Words was basically pointless, no lesson learned, and overallJason Bateman picked an off film to use as his directorial debut in films. Bad Words was basically pointless, no lesson learned, and overall inappropriate. Expand
  5. 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 10Was 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. Expand
  6. Apr 4, 2014
    4
    Even with the movie only being 89 minutes, it felt repetitive and unnecessary most of the time. There are moments that are funny but notEven with the movie only being 89 minutes, it felt repetitive and unnecessary most of the time. There are moments that are funny but not enough to make up for the bland story and messy climax. Expand
  7. Dec 26, 2014
    0
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. There's certainly plenty of room for comedy in our lives; whether a co-worker telling a joke, a TV show or film. Some comedy is universal. Some highly personal. That's why some comedians prosper in lengthy careers while others flounder and take that long, lonely trip to obscurity.

    Then there's edge. In the right hands it is quite effective (like "Bad Santa" and most of "Bad Grandpa"). In the wrong hands - like these filmmakers - the result is gratuitous wallowing in ego with the belief you're right and everyone else doesn't know what's funny; The 'I Hate Myself But You're Not Cool If You Don't Like This School.' Edge without an equally effective counterbalance results in pure vileness. There you have it!

    To the point. "Bad Words" is a cringe-inducing, the opposite of funny, misogynistic, misanthropic, self-loathing, racist piece of crap not suitable for human consumption presented to potential viewers on an ugly platter as a comedy.

    The ubercontrived story, if you care, follows an 8th grade dropout seeking a spelling bee prize in competition against wunderkinds seeking same. His agenda lies in reaching the father who abandoned him, and who just happens to hold office as head of the spelling bee. You were spared 90 minutes of time you could have used watching paint dry - a more amusing pursuit.

    High, or more appropriate, low points include: placing ketchup on a young girl's chair then congratulating her for menstruating to shame her out of the contest; leading a 10 year old kid to a bar and sneaking drinks to him under the bar then hiring a prostitute to expose her breasts to him; calling a fellow Indian contestant (the Bar kid) every possible racist term used for the race; whispering to another contestant that panties Bateman hides in his pocket belong to his mother and are a post-coital gift; telling off an angry mother by noting the flexibility of her vagina - in front of the kid. And that's just a bit of the awfulness.

    Jason Bateman's co-conspirator is Kathryn Hahn; a reporter filing a story on why a 40 year old is in a kid's competition. Her portrayal of repulsion/attraction to this Peter Pan (she allows him to have sex with her but doesn't allow him look at her) is creepy. The funny she brought to the (at least) semi-bearable "We're The Millers" was wrung from her every cell here. And she's the best thing in this alleged film, one that can not be elevated even by the venerable character actor Philip Baker Hall and the wonderful Allison Janey (who is accused of being Gay and asked who wears the strapon).

    Indie film has moments of brilliance. Outside Studio constraints courageous stories sometimes flourish. Some might call "Bad Words" courageous as it's unapologetic. Perhaps, but it is just not funny. More disturbing is the targets of this particularly nasty humor are pre-teen children. But, if schadenfreude is your thing... watch "The Three Stooges." (It's doubtful those who enjoy "Bad Words" have a clue about either.)

    Bateman is a funny guy. His work on "Arrested Development" and other TV shows and films is excellent. The best one could hope is no one will ever let him Direct again, and that the screenwriter suffer some experience leading him to an epiphany to reflect on what he's dumping on the world.

    Actually, the best outcome is all traces of this film are E-X-P-U-N-G-E-D from the planet.
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See all 31 User Reviews

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