Chris Hanna

Jason Bateman's Bad Words

In Bad Words, first-time film director Jason Bateman can’t elevate his kooky movie about a 40-year-old spelling bee contestant to much more than unpleasant.

Bateman plays Guy Trilby, who finds a loophole that will let him compete among pre-teens in a national spelling bee, the Golden Quill. He’s on some sort of mission of revenge: why and against whom, you only find out late in the 89-minute film, at which point I found it was both moot and illogical. Trilby is accompanied by a reporter (Kathryn Hahn, a great comedic character actress who does her best here but only gets a few chances to shine) who tries to get answers out of him for a story. “Why, at age 40,” she asks, “have you decided to annoy educators, parents and children by forcing your way into a kid’s spelling bee?” He’s quick to make enemies: one of the “randomly” selected words he’s required to…

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