Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bad Words (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Bad Words

Taking a page from Billy Bob Thornton's most irreverent comedies, actor Jason Bateman gives an entertaining directorial debut in "Bad Words".

Rather than bombard the screen with trite offense, the film keeps a fresh surprise until the end. Bateman's  direction is quick and light in its momentum, and the jokes crackle like fireworks gone mad.

Jason Bateman is terrific as the repellent and repelling forty- something Guy Trilby, who crashes spelling bees like a Grinch, winning competitions and robbing kids of their lexical loot.

Trilby is able to do this legitimately through a loophole given that he never finished the 8th grade in the usual time window, but no matter.

A creep is still a creep.

Bateman is the perfect prickly porcupine of a man: nearly bald, gray and  steel-eyed with barbs on his chin due to his five o clock shadow. He knows all the words before his baby faced competitors and one by one these sheepish spelldowners are down for the count.

Nothing is off limits and he is without mercy. If he can't out spell these  competitors, he pummels them with a free-associative insult that devastates by whimsy.

Trilby is the Alpha alphabetizer with a chip of rage on his shoulder that could make a drum of Chips Ahoy cookies.

Trilby revels in his Seussian snarks until he meets the open and inquisitive Chaitanya (Rohan Chand) who is fascinated by the adult. Trilby insults him with reckless impunity. Yet the wide eyed youngster refuses to leave. Out of curiosity and daring, this snide and don't- touch- me soul takes the kid out on the town. Trilby gets him to swear, eat unhealthily, dangerously tease adults and observe matters of the flesh. Chaitanya loves the nightlife but remains mostly unfazed throughout. He is a spelling champion after all and words are his toys. The most arresting and comical passages in the film evolve when the tables are turned with Trilby as the juvenile while the boy is the steadfast responsible adult.

Allison Janney and Phillip Baker Hall of Seinfeld "library cop" fame, give entertaining if predictable outings as a witchy director and a confused spelling bee head, respectively.

From start to finish "Bad Words" is a juicy sourball of joy, yet its most unique punch may well be its portrait of an incongruous friendship between a  spiny, cynical man and a boy more than willing to handle whatever this acrid adult can do to him and run.

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