#REVIEW: “BAD WORDS”
Several great Films have been made about child-adult role reversals. We had a hankering for Tom Hanks who touched our hearts in Big. Jennifer Garner garnered our affections in 13 Going on 30. Zac Efron had us going fronatic, making our eyes misty in Seventeen Again. Bad Words, directed/produced by and starring Jason Bateman, possesses a similar sweet, fantastical quality about it which has us suspending our disbelief for a good 90 minutes in what otherwise is a pretty ridiculous premise.
The Film centers on Guy (Bateman) who exacts revenge as a 40-year-old, after a tough defeat in a Spelling Bee as a Child. He finds a loophole which enables him shamelessly to compete in a nationally-televised Competition… against Kids. He shows absolutely no mercy to his Competition; their Parents show no mercy to him likewise. Dirty Underwear, Mindgames and Ketchup all are used to batter his young Competitors into distraction and submission. Joining him along the way is a Journalist in Jenny (Kathryn Hahn), who is both unable to resist his ill-mannered charms, determined to get to the root of his Story. Under the unlikeliest of circumstances, Guy befriends the one Opponent he needs to fear most in Chaitanya (Rohand Chand).
The foul-mouthed Comedy most certainly pushes the boundaries with enough uncomfortable moments, heightened by the fact that Children are front and center here – surely raising a red flag or two with the MPAA – but once Guy‘s true intentions are uncovered, the Film reaches a turning point towards the meaningful. I challenge you not to leave feeling genuinely affected by what truly is a special friendship on-screen between Guy and Chaitanya, each gradually peeling a layer off the other, effectively filling a void in the other’s lives in a unique Father-Son/BFF-type dynamic.
Bateman, far underutilized as a Film Actor, truly carries much of the weight on his own in what is a memorable performance. He takes someone who on paper is absolutely deplorable, humanizing him with a great deal of intrigue. It doesn’t take us all long to wonder collectively exactly what is driving his vitriolic angst.
Nine-year-old Chand is an absolute Standout, stamping himself as a name to watch among Young Hollywood with a pair of high profile releases to come next. He posseses a perfect doe-eyed innocence which punctuates the hilarity of the age-inappropriate material he delivers from Andrew Dodge‘s sinfully-funny Script. Hahn is no stranger to Comedy and she captivates in Jenny‘s straight-laced demeanour, complementing Bateman‘s bravado. The commanding Phillip Baker Hall is cast perfectly as the way-serious Dr. Bowman, grounding the Story with a dash of gravitas.
You don’t need to consult with Merriam-Webster Online to see that Bad Words spells fun. eOne Films release Bad Words on Friday, March 28, 2014.