“Bad Words” is the directorial debut of Jason Bateman. Bateman has been a reliable comedic actor for a few years now. Occasionally he drops in with a solid dramatic performance. This time he works behind the camera as well as in front of it. The story involves an adult man who joins an elementary school spelling Bee. His reasons become the heart of the movie. He is aloud to compete based on the technicality that he did not complete school beyond grade 8. The parents and teachers are justifiably outraged.
At first I thought this was going to be simply a setup for Bateman to star in a black comedy. For the first two thirds of the film it runs as such and works quite well. The dialogue is edgy, funny, and fairly smart. Bateman is a capable director for this type of material based on this film alone.
The last third of the movie then becomes a pretty absorbing drama as we learn why a man of this age is not only a bitter jerk but also wants to compete in a kids spelling Bee. The reasoning is sort of mind blowing. This movie is definitely worth a watch.