Should I Watch It? – Bad Words (2014)


7.4-10 – IMDb

65% – Rotten Tomatoes


I am a man of simple tastes. Jason Bateman + spelling bee + small Indian boy? Can’t go wrong, or so I thought. Faced with Noah, Non-Stop, and Bad Words, I made the mistake of choosing the latter. It’s not that I completely regret watching Bateman’s — he directed the film as well — movie, but I certainly left the theater with the impression that Liam Neeson badassing or Russell Crowe building would have been a better use of my time. Before I get too upset, though, let us ask the pertinent questions.


Should I pay to see it?



Nooooo. I’ll get into my reactions more in the following answers, but suffice to say this one is not worth the price of admission. Bad Words seems destined for a quick trip to Netflix and perhaps some showings on premium, vulgarity-friendly channels. Even at his best, Bateman churns out work that plays best while you watch on your couch, binging Arrested Development or watching Horrible Bosses over and over. This is not his best, though I wouldn’t completely condemn it, and it will probably make you chuckle from the comfort of home months or years in the future.

This happens.

Could I watch it with a date?

You could not, in good conscience. Again, Bateman’s work, thinking of AD or movies like Identity Thief, often lends itself to light and easy fare, but Bad Words is filled with, well, bad words — along with a generally dark tone that makes it difficult to sympathize with the characters until near the end of the movie. The tiny Indian boy you may have seen berated by Bateman in the trailer is Rohan Chand, and while he helps provide some great moments (augmented by the fact that such ridiculous lines are coming out of such an innocent mouth), I just could not get comfortable with Bateman out of his comfort zone. There is not a healthy relationship to be found in the movie, and your date will probably be more memorable if spent with a movie that will bring laughs on a more consistent basis, and cringes far less often.

What a happy, strange family.

Could I watch it with my mother?

As usual, this depends on just how close you and Mommy are, but this one is questionable. The movie is filled with bad parents and children feeling their effects, so take that as you will, but many of Bateman’s crude jokes may fall on deaf parental ears. Having had some time to reflect on the movie, I have to say I’m not as disappointed, as the final twenty minutes do redeem the frustration of the first seventy to an extent. That being said, by the time you get there Bateman has pushed you to the brink with relentless crude and insensitive behavior, not made up for by the shortage of hilarious moments one would expect based on the fantastic premise. Usually Jason Bateman’s would be the type of comedy mothers and children could enjoy together, but here he ventures into a different territory, one for which I am struggling to identify a proper target audience.

Bateman succeeds in undermining some of the ridiculousness in youth competition and the poor behavior it elicits in parents, but it’s hard to tell exactly what he was trying to do, for his focus strays as the movie reaches its conclusion. He’s telling us something about competition, ambition, and familial estrangement, but it’s hard to tell what that is. I don’t know if Bateman himself even knows.

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About Author: Brian McMahon

Brian is an author and co-founder of GoodWillWatching. He likes to write and is deathly afraid of bugs. His Great American Novel, not yet titled or existent, will be shocking the world some time or another. He once stayed up for two days straight because of poor information regarding the arrival of Halley’s Comet, which was not due for approximately 57 years. You can follow him @bm1313 on Twitter, or in real life from a safe distance.