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

User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 89 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: 15 out of 26
  2. Negative: 4 out of 26
  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. 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
  3. Mar 16, 2014
    7
    Bad words is a really fun little movie, one that I laughed very hard in. Bateman is absolutely hilarious with his deadpan insults, and IBad words is a really fun little movie, one that I laughed very hard in. Bateman is absolutely hilarious with his deadpan insults, and I enjoyed his interaction with a little Indian kid. As always Kathryn Hahn is awesome, but I wish her character and her motivation were flushed out a bit more. Her sex scene is by far the best in the movie. For an uproarious movie of this kind, it seemed that the basic plot underpinnings, the reason he went through with this spelling bee, is just a little bit strained and depressing and I think the writers probably could've been a better job in providing him with motivation. Expand
  4. Mar 31, 2014
    6
    Jason Bateman has always been good at dry delivery, so he's gone desert with this mean-spirited character (he also directed). He's an unhappyJason Bateman has always been good at dry delivery, so he's gone desert with this mean-spirited character (he also directed). He's an unhappy grownup who finds a loophole that allows him to enter middle-school spelling bee, which he wins. This serves as a vehicle for him to drive verbally vicious insults, going for laffs by being outrageous to kids. Luckily, one charmer (Rohan Chand) manages to get thru. While there are some amusing moments, much of the effort is spent trolling for laffs by being shocking, which isn't as successful. Expand
  5. Oct 18, 2014
    5
    Sometimes amusing, almost always vulgar, and extremely immoral; Bad Words contains shock value by the ton, but it won't stick with you verySometimes amusing, almost always vulgar, and extremely immoral; Bad Words contains shock value by the ton, but it won't stick with you very long, and it's rarely laugh out loud funny. Bateman's character is one outrageously unrestrained person. You can't really think of anyone who'd play him better. Most of his schemes though are too mean spirited to be funny. Instead they just make you angry. The movie ends alright, and the young Indian kid who serves as Guy's sidekick is a funny character, but there's simply no boundaries with this movie. Soon Guy is taking him to bars, sneaking him alcoholic drinks, and having him cavort with prostitutes. The movie throws away all of its potential trying to shock out laughs, when it is merely being disgusting instead. Expand
  6. Apr 5, 2014
    4
    Jason Bateman makes his directorial debut along with starring in and producing, “Bad Words”. He plays Guy Trilby, a 40 years old man, whoJason Bateman makes his directorial debut along with starring in and producing, “Bad Words”. He plays Guy Trilby, a 40 years old man, who never finished the 8th grade which makes him eligible to compete with 10 year olds in a spelling bee eventually winding up in the national finals.

    “Bad Words” is a comedy that makes fun of kids such as a 40 year old man giving a 10 year contestant the finger or taking the kid Chaitanya, played by Rohan Chand, to a prostitute so she could show him her boobs. How about eliminating a contestant by making her think she is ‘becoming a woman‘ then and there where she has to get up in front of a crowd to spell a word? And then how could he not help pick on a fat kid before the boy’s turn in the spelling bee?

    Bateman gets a certain sympathy in any film because of his persona but here it is the screenplay by Andrew Dodge who gives the actor sharp lines that will make you laugh even when you know it is wrong. The interplay between Guy and the reporter, Jenny Widgeon, played by Kathryn Hahn, looking to find out what is behind the story, is also funny though at times in a cruel way.

    Dr. Deagan, played by Allison Janney, as the director of the spelling bee, has nothing but disdain for Guy and makes it quite clear by giving him a supply closet for his hotel room. The Golden Quill’s spelling bee founder, played by Philip Baker Hall, attempts to keep everything on an even keel turns comedy to drama on a dime.

    Anyone who has been going to the movies knows where the story is heading but Bateman handles the actors, and himself, with a lightness that makes what is said and shown on film almost funny. The relationship between Guy and Chaitanya is the meat of the story and if the kid can forgive the adult so can we.
    Expand
  7. 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-boyIt 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. Expand

See all 26 User Reviews

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