Written by / 4/02/2014 / No comments / , , , ,

JASON BATEMAN DIRECTS AND STARS IN BAD WORDS

year: 2014 rating: *1/2
Norman Bates in PSYCHO… Alex in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE… Stansfield in THE PROFESSIONAL… These are a few moody characters that listen to Beethoven for negative inspiration: And now Guy Trilby, played by comedic actor and first time feature film director Jason Bateman, can be added to that list…

Beginning with a classic symphony playing from a pair of iPod headphones, a no-nonsense, foul-mouthed Guy has his sites on one of several Spelling Bee competitions he’s sure to win. Not only can he spell just about any word, he’s pretty darn old… Forty to be exact… And has found a loophole to compete against and defeat mere children.

The trick is that Guy says terrible things to people, from the kids to the parents, and Jason Bateman is no stranger to glib, goading characters: The cult television series ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT brought him out of straight-to-video purgatory and back onto the big screen, and he got his start as uncompromising '80s sitcom punks in SILVER SPOONS and the short-lived pseudo-spinoff IT’S YOUR MOVE.

So this snarky role should be a piece of cake but is more of a slice of plain bread… Bateman tries too hard to be a verbal cutthroat and at the same time isn’t trying hard enough. He’s not very funny or relatable so the one-liners and over the top diatribes all start sounding the same after a while. And with an abundance of lazy montage sequences, most of the spelling bees lack suspense. But the film’s heart is really supposed to matter – and it’s beating way too loud on a predictable, cliché sleeve…

Bateman circa 1984
JACK AND JILL child actor Rohan Chand becomes Guy’s "friend" as both are set to ultimately compete against each other and, staying at the same hotel, they wind up painting the town: Drinking, shoplifting and joyriding, their kinship is forced and farfetched while the ever-smirking Rohan seems completely aware of the camera. Sadly, and with his track record, surprisingly, Bateman’s grouchy mentor isn’t interesting enough to carry things on his own.

An 11th hour twist, attempting to make the clever tagline "The End Justifies the Mean" make sense, is flat and anticlimactic, serving only to allow our bitter antihero to become likable: Too bad since the mystery of why Guy has it in for everyone was the best thing the film had going…

That is, except the music, including a funky instrumental from The Beastie Boys and finishing with one of The Smashing Pumpkin’s coolest tracks, a gloriously grungy epic titled Snail, which, along with that rudimentary Beethoven piece, amounts to a glorious silk hat on a S-U-S-S-C-R-O-F-A-D-O-M-E-S-T-I-C-U-S.
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