Movie review: “Bad Words” about as much fun as swearing at children

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From the March 20, 2014 edition

I say this as a non-parent, but saying bad words in front of children is funny. It just is. Try it. I’ll wait.

See? Didn’t that feel good? That’s the sort of humor at play in Jason Bateman’s directorial debut, “Bad Words.”

Guy Trilby (Bateman) is a single, cynical thirty-something. He’s kind of a jerk (Bateman is definitely playing against his Michael Bluth typecasting). Oh, and he competes against children in spelling bees, exploiting a loophole that requires merely that the contestant has not passed the 8th grade at the time of the competition.

With equal parts raunch and a surprisingly heartwarming and unlikely friendship between Bateman’s character and a young Indian boy (Rohan Chand), “Bad Words” calls to mind “Bad Santa.” No, it’s not “Bad Santa” good, but it’s a lot of fun.

Bateman blends R-rated comedy with a touch of mumblecore, and it’s a solid start for him as an actor-director. He gets some very funny support from Kathryn Hahn as a newspaper reporter journaling Guy’s journey.

It’s not all perfect, as I found the resolution to be a bit lacking, but “Bad Words” is just about as much fun as swearing at children.

Photo courtesy of Focus Features