Jason Bateman has been a fixture in Hollywood since the early '80s. With such a lengthy resume, it's amazing that it has taken him so long to slip into the director's chair. His first directorial effort, Bad Words, is a black comedy with a familiar tone and a lot of familiar faces.
It's important to note that you shouldn't expect to see any signs of AD's likable Michael Bluth. Instead, Bateman seems to have taken a few lessons from his Horrible Bosses costar Jason Sudekis, because he plays the asshole so well here. I'm not even talking about the type of asshole who would plot to kill his boss. Bateman plays Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old warranty proofreader who has found himself a lucrative loophole in the spelling bee system. The end result manages to crush the hopes and dreams of many children -- and a few parents as well. Why would someone want to do such thing? See the asshole thing that I mentioned earlier. Of course, he has other reasons, which can't be mentioned here.
Bateman has such a knack for playing a nice guy. Who knew he could pull off the opposite so well? Sure, he was the smarmy kid from Silver Spoons. Here though, he's downright nasty, eliminating his competition with cruelty that's sometimes disguised as kindness. For the most part though, it's just a bunch of really funny, rapid-fire insults.
Jason Bateman looks to crush the hopes and dreams of children everywhere in "Bad Words." Photo: Focus Features.
The familiar faces of Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, Philip Baker Hall, Ben Falcone, Beth Grant and Rachael Harris all pop up throughout the movie, but the one you'll remember the best is Rohan Chand. As 10-year-old Chaitanya Chopra, he is both Guy's rival and friend, as well as an excellent sparring partner.
[Here's a slight spoiler coming; you've been warned!]
The film focuses on the friendship between the two competitors, with a few twists. Of course, Bad Words then goes for the good-feel ending (how could you not see that coming?), but it certainly won't leave you feeling cheated. It's raunchy and funny to the very end.
Do not adjust this picture! If you listen to Jason Bateman's commentary track, you'll know that the washed out color seen throughout the film is there for a reason. Everything has a khaki effect to it, but it's not distracting at all. Otherwise, the 2.40:1 image is pretty sharp, with nice detail on that opening spit-take (ew), the clothing, the facial hair, and the spelling bee scenery.
Since the majority of the film focuses on a spelling bee, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that dialogue is the main focus of this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. What is a bit of a surprise is how much the surrounds are used to pack in a little extra punch now and then. There are plenty of atmospheric sounds, but the "boys night out" scene certainly stands out, as does the music, especially when it comes to tracks by the Beastie Boys, the Smashing Pumpkins, and The Black Keys.
On paper, these extras are a bit on the slim side. All of the deleted and extended scenes are clumped together into one 6.5-minute short and there's another 10.5-minute piece on the making of the film. There are a few good blurbs in that featurette, but the real meat is in Jason Bateman's commentary track. It's not really funny, but does provide pretty much everything and anything you'd want to know about the production.
Jason Bateman has made a fun directorial debut. Bad Words can be pretty brutal, but it's also pretty entertaining. Of course, pairing Bateman with Rohan Chand definitely lends to that. If you're not easily offended by the content (or the lack of extras), Bad Words is a good buy.
Actors: Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Rohan Chand, Ben Falcone, Philip Baker Hall, Allison JanneyDirector: Jason BatemanAudio/Languages: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English), DTS 5.1 (Spanish)Subtitles: English SDH, French, SpanishAspect Ratio: 2.40:1Number of Discs: 2Rating: RStudio: Universal Blu-ray Disc Release Date: July 8, 2014Run Time: 88 minutesList Price: $34.98Extras: Deleted and Extended ScenesThe Minds and Mouths Behind Bad WordsFeature Commentary with Director Jason BatemanPreviewsBD LiveStandard-Def DVDDigital CopyUltraViolet Digital Copy