Gallagher Says – Bad Words

I have been watching a lot of Jason Bateman’s works lately. It started with binge watching Arrested Development. Next, I watched Identity Thief and The Gift. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed him in Zootopia and Central Intelligence, so the next logical step was to watch his directorial debut: Bad Words.

Bad Words is about forty year old Guy Trilby, played by Jason Bateman. Guy discovers he can enter a children’s spelling bee because he never completed the eighth grade. Guy uses this loophole to exploit the competition, much to the children’s parents displeasure.

Guy is accompanied by small-time reporter Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn). She hopes to have his story as her exclusive. Once Guy gets to the national bee though, he is faced with Dr. Bernice Deagan (Allison Janney) the director of the bee who vows to not let him get to the finals. Along the way, Guy is befriended by fellow competitor Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand).

Bad Words is a dark comedy, so some of the humour and the situations created in the film definitely won’t appeal to all tastes. I found some of Guy’s interactions with the children to be weird and off-putting at times. That being said, Bateman’s scenes with Chand were the most enjoyable parts in the film.

Most of the film’s story and humour centre around its premise of an adult competing in a children’s competition. It doesn’t deviate much from this core which contributes to it having a short runtime. This isn’t a bad thing though. My main problem was when the film shoehorned in a couple minor subplots or tidbits of information that really didn’t deepen the film as much as it felt like they wanted them to.

The film has a very definite style to it. The scenes are darker than other comedies, and it has a very brown look to it. The photography is also interesting with Bateman chossing to frame his shots with foreground objects. This makes the film look like the audience is sitting in on conversations and lives they are merely eves dropping on. Bateman also uses slow motion to enhance actions for comedic effect.

My Favourites from the film: Bateman’s performance is on point for a character that you can root for but also dislike. The scenes of the spelling bees are fun to watch, and Bateman and Chand have great chemistry.

My Less enjoyed parts of the film: The scenes that attempt to add dramatic weight felt hollow, and the exposition felt forced or obvious. The immaturity of Guy is sometimes hard to watch, and Jenny’s part in the story was purely there to serve plot points.

My Recommendation: Not for all audiences. The dark humour and subjects of the film would be off-putting to some. On the other hand, the film is not ridiculous or rude enough for a strong R-rated comedy crowd. If you’re into strange, low budget comedies, it’s a good one. Excellent for the fans of Coen Brothers type films.

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Gallagher Says – The Gift

​This was a film I wanted to see right from the first trailer. I had become interested in keeping an eye on Joel Edgerton after seeing him star alongside Tom Hardy in Warrior. After a look at his filmography, I realized I had seen him in small parts in Smokin’ Aces and the Star Wars Prequels.

Needless to say, I was intrigued to see his directorial debut. The film was released. I was busy with college, and I forgot about it. This Christmas I saw it for sale and remembered my interest in it.

My interest increased when I saw that Jason Bateman was also in it. I recently watched all of Arrested Development, and without delving too deeply into that, I loved it. So the promise of seeing him in something this serious encouraged my purchase of the film.

All that aside, the real star of the film is Rebecca Hall. I was surprised at first how much we were following her day to day experiences. The primary conflict of the film is the clash of personalities between Jason Bateman’s Simon and Joel Edgerton’sGordo, so after Rebecca Hall’s Robyn served as the instigator in their continued interactions, I figured we’d stick with the men.

That wasn’t the case. I thought it was a strange choice and the reason for the slow pacing, but as the film developed and we hear more of the men’s history together, I began to realize that following Robyn’s involvement in the standoff was actually genius.

We empathize with Robyn completely because she is just like us. We know what she knows. We see what she sees. We feel what she feels. I won’t give away how the story plays out because it has some great twists and turns.

My favourites from the film: Watching Jason Bateman playing a very serious role, but it was like a more serious Michael Bluth of Arrested Development. Rebecca Hall’s performance and the decision to tell the story from her perspective. The photography.

My less enjoyed parts of the film: The pacing early in the film was slow/inconsistent. The perspective wasn’t apparent to me early in the film. There were some unnecessary jump scares/misleads. Joel Edgerton’s performance was odd (I wouldn’t say it was bad. There was something about it that I felt was inconsistent)

My recommendation: Not for those looking for something fast paced or with high stakes. This film is a slow burn with very intimate, relationship based stakes. I wouldn’t even recommend it as a thriller, but more as a tense relationship drama with an air of mystery.