The premise of this film is that Jason Bateman’s character enters a spelling contest for children due to his troubled past. That’s it really, it almost follows the same formula of many generic romantic comedies wherein our lead, Jason Bateman, hates one of his fellow contestants, but maybe there is more to this particular contestant than what Bateman first thought, blah, blah, blah. That is the biggest downfall of the film, that and the generic happy ending.
You can tell the film was following a certain formula within the first 30-40 minutes and that is when the films comedic factor starts to dip into predictable, obvious jokes. The first 30 minutes of the film were very funny, but once it started to become more formulaic the story felt like it had to twist and bend in order to hit every generic romantic comedy beat and that is also how it lost its flair.
I also doubt that the concept for ‘Bad Words’ was not enough for a full film and the fact that it became very formulaic and honestly, dull in some parts really stretched this story beyond anything that could be identified as funny. There are some jokes that land well but a lot land flat and they land flat with a blatant thud which is very jarring and brings the film to a screeching halt.
This is Jason Bateman’s feature length directorial debut and it is all very formulaic and provides nothing of substance, I feel that another director could have added some flair to the film to help keep the pace or make it just feel better overall.
The acting was good, but just like the directing nothing spectacular, or even great, I feel like if the film had a more charismatic or unique lead it would have improved a lot of the spelling contest scenes. Throughout the film I was thinking about who could replace Bateman and two names I kept going back to were Jason Schwartzman and Bradley Cooper.