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‘Bad Words’ brings mean-spirited laughs


With its vulgar and offensive dialogue and plot, “Bad Words” lives up to its title as an adult enters a spelling bee and infuriates his competition’s parents. 

The film opens to the internal monologue of anti-hero Guy Trilby (played by director Jason Bateman) a 40-year-old “slubberdegullion,” or louse of a person. Trilby is an unflappable genius. He ignores countless insults and threats as he shamelessly exploits a loophole in the rulebook of the “Golden Quill Spelling Bee,” a competition meant for kids eighth grade and under. 

Online journalist Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn) takes part in an awkward relationship with Trilby as she pays his way from competition to competition, all while trying the figure out why he entered the bee in the first place.

Trilby is forced into a highly questionable friendship with Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand), his cheerful fellow contestant who is often the target of many of Trilby’s harsh remarks. 

Sporadically through the film, Trilby narrates his thoughts in an eloquent manner that highlights the hidden genius of his character. 

The entire film seems to be a big, rude gesture to all of those despicable people in high places as Trilby ultimately does what we all wish we could. In mocking the grandeur of the spelling bee, Trilby mocks the unjust elitists who participate in it. 

By the end of the film, Trilby seems decisively less of an “anti-hero” and more of an actual hero, despite hardly changing as a person. The film maintains a bland aesthetic, which complements spelling bees and their boring nature. “Bad Words” is dripping with normalcy. 

The parents, judges and contestants all give off a very suburban air contrasted by Trilby and his abnormal behavior. 

Throughout the film, Trilby spouts off offensive remarks about everyone around him that seem to stick out like neon against the colorless surroundings of the film. 

Outside the film, such remarks would be cringe worthy. However the combination of Trilby’s character and the flippant way they are presented make them seem a bit less scathing. 

“Bad Words” can be subtle – possibly too subtle at times – and you have to be quick to notice the word play that happens during much of the competition. 

As the film’s title suggests, this film is very liberal in its use of profanity. Anyone offended by the use of foul language – especially the use of foul language by minors -should probably give this one a pass. 

But the film is smart and funny, and for anyone looking for something that will make him or her laugh in a slightly embarrassing way “Bad Words” is definitely worth a view. The vulgar and offensive words used in this film may put some viewers off, but as Trilby points out, they are just words.