“Homily” – a short lesson or sermon. That’s the word that knocked me out of the fricking Scripps Howard Spelling Bee when I was in middle school and freaking Lisa Dodda got to go to DC for the national. Now she’s probably a doctor or a lawyer or CIA assassin….something cool. I’m writing a blog about a movie about spelling bees. Oh, right, yes, the movie. Sorry, got off on a tangent there for a second.
Starring and Directed by Jason Bateman, Bad Words is the story of a 40-year old man who, through a loophole in the rules, enters a spelling bee against kids 30 years his junior. As to why, that’s the payoff and it’s pretty good. Bateman’s character is a spelling bee’s worst nightmare. He’s foul, acerbic, plays dirty and can spell like he’s reading the dictionary. Bateman delivers a good performance, proving again his talent for comedic excellence. Also great was Rohan Chad as Bateman’s nemesis/new best friend.
As a former victim, I mean contestant, of the spelling bee machine, I appreciated it a lot more than I think most would. The humor falls flat some of the time and even at a brisk 90 minutes it feels padded. But if you liked Arrested Development or suffer from childhood spelling bee traumatic syndrome (CSBTS), you’ll probably have fun with this rental.