Bad Words will leave you spellbound, Jason Bateman leads the way in captivating, coarse comedy
By Peter Covino
A&E Editor/Film Critic
No more Mr. Nice Guy.
With few exceptions, Jason Bateman for the most part, has played nice, affable characters, from his earliest roles on Little House on the Prairie and The Hogan Family to Arrested Development.
In the suitably titled comedy Bad Words, Bateman, who also is making his directorial debut, stars as the foul-mouthed, pretty much despicable, Guy Trilby.
Trilby is a mostly miserable guy, looking for revenge for a childhood and adulthood where life has seemingly given him one kick in the pants after another.
Trilby makes his living as a proofreader, and he really, really knows words. And he discovers what he thinks is a brilliant loophole in the rules of the national spelling bee that allows him to compete with kids: All contestants must not have completed the eighth grade by a certain date. Trilby never made it past the eighth grade, so he qualifies.
It is a pretty clever premise considering all the high drama of other films about spelling bees, such as Spellbound and Akeelah and the Bee. Bateman, with help from screenwriter Andrew Dodge manages to get all of that backstage backstabbing in, and make this film a satire as well. Think about all that phony staging in the dog show comedy Best of Show and add Jack Nicholson’s Melvin Udall character in As Good as it Gets and you have a good idea what you are getting into with Bad Words.
Trilby destroys the competition and is at the finals, much to the dismay of all the parents and the stuffy spelling bee officials.
There is an Achille’s heel in Trilby’s plan though: An awkward and lonely ten-year-old competitor (Rohan Chand), who overlooks all that is horrible with Trilby and wants to be his friend. After many rebuffs to the kid, Trilby and the youngster become pals.
But everything is not quite as it seems. The kid has a hidden agenda, and Trilby has a motive to win the spelling bee, something that has driven him to this moment, for years.
Bad Words is funny when it needs to be, and it often is, but it also has softer underbelly, that allows a nice balance of sentimentality as well.
For much of the film, Trilby proves to be a far worse character than the obsessive/compulsive Nicholson in As Good as it Gets, but he too proves to have a likeable side before that last word in the competition is spelled.
The cast also includes good performances by Allison Janey and Philip Baker Hall as the spelling bee officials and young Rohan tries really hard to be the scene-stealer with Bateman.
Critic’s rating: B+
Bad Words is rated R for language and sexual situations
If you are a night owl and like Sean Connery and bad movies, stay up late and watch Zardoz on TCM Underground Saturday morning at 2 a.m.
In what has to be the strangest film Connery has ever made, this 1974 science fiction film features the celebrated actor as far away from James Bond as possible. And that probably was the idea.
It hadn’t been that many years from the days of Goldfinger and Thunderball and this pretty low-budget epic thrust Connery into a future world, wearing something that looks like was rejected from an audition to sing with the Village People.
It’s hard to believe this was actually directed by John Boorman (he also wrote the screenplay), the man responsible for Deliverance, Hope and Glory and The Emerald Forest.
Boorman was actually in talks to direct Lord of the Rings, but when that proved to be too costly, he opted to do Excalibur, which actually has some of the same feel as the Lord of the Rings books.
You might want to mark your calendars for the next TCM Underground film, Saturday, March 29, when the movie channel presents Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Film.
I’ve never seen the documentary, but this 2012 film should be interesting with its look at some seldom seen avantgarde films made throughout the history of filmmaking.
One of HBO’s most successful series ever, True Blood will be drawing to a close later this summer. But you can relive every biting moment from season six with the arrival of True Blood: the Complete Sixth Season on June 3.
In season six Vampire Bill is rebirthed as a powerful ancient deity, Louisiana Governor Truman Burrell declares open season on all vampires and Sookie Stackhouse finds herself sidelined by a mysterious stranger with a hidden agenda.
The Complete Sixth Season will be available on Blu-ray with Digital Copy ($79.98), DVD ($59.99) and Digital HD.
Both sets include the full 10-episode season, along with extensive bonus materials including behind-the-scenes interviews and never-before-seen content.
Season six introduces several new story lines that threaten what little sense of normalcy remains in Bon Temps, The Authority is in flames, and True Blood is in short supply.
Those special bonuses often are the reason people buy sets of favorite series and with its legions of fans, this set should prove to a winner with fans.
Extras include :
Vamp Camp Files – get an inside look at the secret trove of documents detailing the effort to eradicate vampires via the institution known as “Vamp Camp.”
True Blood Lines – uncover secrets from relationships past and present in this engaging fully interactive guide and archive.
Inside the Episodes (10 Clips) – get the backstories on each episode with revealing interviews from the show writers.
Audio Commentaries – five commentaries with cast and crew including executive producer Brian Buckner, Stephen Moyer, Carrie Preston, Amelia Rose Blaire and more.
Previews & Recaps
True Blood: The Complete Sixth Season
Blu-ray with Digital Copy, DVD & Digital HD
Street Date: June 3, 2014
Order Date: April 29, 2014
Runtime: Approx. 600 minutes (excluding bonus features)
Price: $79.98 Blu-ray with Digital Copy (4 BD discs Digital Copy)
Price: $59.99 DVD (4 discs)
True Blood cast members include Anna Paquin as waitress and part-faerie Sookie Stackhouse; Stephen Moyer as vampire Bill Compton; Alexander Skarsgård as vampire Eric Northman; Ryan Kwanten as Sookie’s trouble-prone brother, Jason Stackhouse; Rutina Wesley as Pam’s newly-turned progeny, Tara Thornton; Sam Trammell as Sookie’s shape-shifting boss, Sam Merlotte; Nelsan Ellis as Tara’s clairvoyant sharp-tongued cousin, Lafayette Reynolds; Carrie Preston as Arlene Bellefleur, a Merlotte’s waitress; Todd Lowe as Terry Bellefleur; Chris Bauer as Terry’s cousin, sheriff Andy Bellefleur; Deborah Ann Woll as Jessica Hamby, Bill’s vampire progeny; Kristin Bauer van Straten as Pam, Eric’s vampire progeny and business partner; Lauren Bowles as Holly, a Merlotte’s waitress; Joe Manganiello as werewolf Alcide Herveaux; Michael McMillian as vampire Steve Newlin; Lucy Griffiths as Nora, a former chancellor of the Vampire Authority; Kelly Overton as werewolf Rikki; and Anna Camp as anti-vampire crusader Sarah Newlin.
New cast members for season six include: Arliss Howard as Louisiana Governor Truman Burrell; Rob Kazinsky as Ben, a stranger with faerie ties; Rutger Hauer as Niall, a faerie grandfather; Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Nicole, a pro-vampire activist; and Amelia Rose Blaire as Truman Burrell’s daughter, Willa.