The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Bateman's debut as director spells out success and humor

2 min read
“Bad Words” is a story about Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman), a 40-year-old man attempting to compete in a children’s national spelling bee competition.



Citing to a loophole in the rulebook, the well-informed Trilby is allowed to compete in the spelling bee simply because he never graduated the eighth grade.

To sponsor him throughout the competition, online reporter Jenny Widgeon, (Kathryn Hahn,) stands behind Trilby for the duration of the film.

The relationship between Trilby and Widgeon develops throughout the movie as Widgeon makes it her goal to find out why Trilby is seeking to destroy the lives of hardworking children and their angry parents. Widgeon believes Trilby’s situation has the potential to make a great story for her online column and spends her time attempting to collect key quotes from him.

Once making it to the national competition, The Golden Quill, Trilby is greeted by Dr. Bernice Deagan (Allison Janney), the director of the competition.

Dr. Deagan informs Trilby that he is a disgrace to the contest and that she and her associate Dr. Bowman, played by Philip Baker Hall, are going to do their best to get him disqualified.

Although everyone continues to hate Trilby as the competition endures, he stays positive because of a goal still unknown to the audience. Widgeon soon discovers the link that connects Trilby to the Golden Quill, however, and the audience too realizes why he is competing.

The young Rohan Chand also plays a large role in “Bad Words” as the 10-year-old Chaitanya Chopra that attempts to befriend Trilby. Bateman and Chand both portray their characters with great finesse, through their hilarious one-liners, facial expressions and overall depiction of a friendship between a child and an adult.

Although the film is considered a comedy, the end of the film takes somewhat of a serious tone, allowing the audience to see a different side of Bateman’s acting skills, as well as growth in Trilby’s relationship with Widgeon and Chopra.

Just as the title of the film implies, bad words are said throughout, along with some jokes that may be seen as insensitive and crude. Some might find the intensity of these jokes offensive, along with the plot itself.

While Bateman’s acting in this movie is praiseworthy, “Bad Words” also marks his directorial debut.

Bateman claimed that he has been acting for the past 20 years to gain the funds to pursue his true passion for directing. He originally searched for another actor to play the role of Trilby, but his search was unsuccessful.

Aside from the great acting and the hilarious one-liners, the best part of this movie is its original storyline that separates it from all the book adaptations and remakes of old movies.

It is a truly original comedy worth seeing.