Sunday, July 6, 2014

Video review: "Bad Words"

A lot of movies want to seem edgy and dark, but for the most part they’re pretenders, inching up to the line of actual rebelliousness and then backing away with a smirk. “Bad Words” is not one of them. It’s a pitch-black comedy that gleefully barrels into offensive territory, then dares you not to laugh.

It stars Jason Bateman -- who also makes his directing debut -- as Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old man who hoodwinks his way into the Golden Quill National Spelling Bee for eighth graders.

Competing against kids in the throes of awkward adolescence, he mocks, bullies and abuses them. He torments a heavy girl into quitting. He convinces another that he’s sleeping with the kid’s mother. He treats the parents and the adults running the competition with even greater contempt.

Guy is, in short, a tremendous jerk. Exactly how he got to be so and why he’s undertaking this strange mission are the central dynamic of this movie, which was written by Andrew Dodge.

What’s astonishing is that we end up caring about Guy, if not exactly endorsing his cryptic motivations. He even gets to show a poignant side in his relationship with a chirpy little Indian-American kid (Rohan Chand), which starts out with antagonism and morphs into something like tutelage.

If you’re up for a bracing film about the joys of being bad, this is it.

Video extras are short in quantity but long in quality. There are deleted and extended scenes, a making-of documentary titled “The Minds and Mouths Behind Bad Words,” and a feature-length commentary track supplied by Bateman.



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