Jason Bateman's 'Bad Words' among new DVD, Blu-ray releases

Akron Beacon JournalJuly 7, 2014 


    These DVDs were released this week:

    Films: Le Week-End (a graceful, warts-and-all picture of marital intimacy starring Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan); Jodorowsky's Dune (filmmaker Frank Pavich makes a convincing case that the film in question might be the greatest movie never made); Nymphomaniac: Volume I and II (Lars von Trier's films starring Charlotte Gainsbourg); The Raid 2 (sequel to the Indonesian action gangster film); Don Peyote; Wings: Sky Force Heroes; Watermark; Dead Drop; Dear Viola; Red River (1948, Criterion Collection); How It All Began: Origins of Master Mantak Chia; Stage Fright; Kid Cannabis; Rigor Mortis; Hunting the Legend: The Search Continues for Sasquatch; French for Kids: On Va Jouer (Let's Play).

    TV series: Masterpiece Mystery!: Endeavour Series 2; The Soul Man: Season One; Vicious: Season One; Walker, Texas Ranger: One Riot One Ranger (1993, two-hour pilot episode of series starring Chuck Norris).


Having built a nice résumé as a comedic actor, Jason Bateman turned again to comedy for his first directing effort, Bad Words. And he generated one of the best acting performances from his leading man, also Jason Bateman.

Unfortunately, the movie stumbles in its later stages. But Bad Words ($29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo) is often a darkly entertaining movie, one that bears more than a passing resemblance to the similarly titled Bad Santa.

Bateman plays Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old man who exploits a loophole to compete in a national spelling bee. His competitive style takes no prisoners, trash-talking competitors one-fourth his age, turning even nastier when adults confront him. He doesn't even honor the conventions of a spelling bee, matter-of-factly spelling any word thrown at him without requests for derivation or use in a sentence.

Of course, he has a reason for his actions, which becomes clear late in the film — and that's one of its least interesting aspects. He also has to contend with a young player (Rohan Chand) who is immune to Trilby's insults and determined to make him a friend. You can figure out the remaining broad strokes of the movie, although a detail here and there might surprise.

Working with a script by Andrew Dodge, Bateman has created a grubby and grim film. It is helped considerably by the supporting cast, including Allison Janney, Philip Baker Hall and Kathryn Hahn. It hooked me quickly, and it kept me engaged most of the time, even when Trilby's tactics were cringe-inducing.

Extras include commentary by Bateman, deleted and extended scenes, and a making-of piece.

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