DVD review: Bateman makes a sharply funny debut as director in ‘Bad Words’

By Sean P. Means

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: July 8, 2014 12:38PM
Updated: July 8, 2014 12:37PM
Jason Bateman stars as Guy Trilby, who incurs the wrath of parents when he enters a spelling bee for children, in the comedy "Bad Words." Courtesy Focus Features

Grade • B

DVD •The word for Jason Bateman’s directorial debut, “Bad Words,” is S-C-A-T-H-I-N-G.

The humor in Andrew Dodge’s script — which centers on Guy (played by Bateman), a 40ish jerk who exploits a loophole in the rules of a youth spelling bee so he can make the national finals — is profanely sharp, as Guy spars with competition officials (Allison Janney and Philip Baker Hall), toys with a reporter (Kathryn Hahn) who’s sweet on him, and plays mind games with his preteen rivals.

But Bateman also finds some warmth under Guy’s angry façade, particularly when Guy befriends Chaitanya (Rohan Chand), a lonely 10-year-old overachiever.