Bad Words spells its oaths on Blu-ray with a release that presents this caustic but funny movie in a pretty good light. This is certainly not a movie for everyone, but it will be a fun evening for those willing to take the trip. It’s actually not as mean-spirited as the previews might lead one to believe. If anything, it’s actually a fairly optimistic view of what could have been a negative experience. The Blu-ray offers the movie in fine high definition picture and sound along with a few bonus features. Fans of Jason Bateman will enjoy his first directorial outing. The movie is worthy of a rental at the very least for the curious - not as a family movie night but as something that people over 18 may well enjoy.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DTS
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 1 Hr. 29 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 07/08/2014
Bad Words probably wants to be a meaner movie than it actually is. The movie follows the efforts of Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman), an eighth grade dropout with a score to settle, as he crashes a spelling bee competition in what can charitably be described as a large temper tantrum. Along the way, he gets help and support from an eager reporter (Kathryn Hahn) and a precocious young competitor (Rohan Chano) while taking every opportunity to undercut his opponents and humiliate various officials. (Allison Janney turns in a fun cameo as one of the brittle authority figures Trilby targets on his journey.) There are certainly a few rough moments along the way – whenever Trilby is challenged by an angry parent or teacher, the gloves come off – but the movie is actually fairly sweet at heart. At his core, Trilby is not really that bad of a guy and while his actions are ridiculous, he usually doesn’t go all the way to a dark place. (Of course, there is that one bit with the poor young girl that has the misfortune to be seated next to him at one appearance…) As a director, Jason Bateman keeps the movie fairly simple to follow – albeit with many long-lens shots and moving perspectives that indicate more of a wish to use the equipment at hand than to have a reason for doing so.
The Production Rating: 3/5
SPOILERS: Bad Words works best when it allows Guy Trilby and his co-conspirators their moments to have minor victories over the various slings and arrows that life and authority figures throw at them. At its core is a man who simply never had a father, and is simply acting out in the only manner he understands. It’s ironic that Trilby, a man without a family, actually makes a family of sorts between the reporter he keeps bedding and the boy he’s unknowingly mentoring. To the movie’s credit, there’s never a scene where this is directly voiced. Instead, one keeps wondering how Trilby is going to justify crushing this poor kid – until the fateful moment happens and we see both man and boy act in a manner that’s in character but not vicious. Trilby essentially has won the competition in spite of all the authorities’ attempts to stop him. And that’s the point that the movie reveals its soul. If this were as mean of a movie as the filmmakers might wish it were, Trilby wouldn’t think twice about stepping on the boy while achieving his goal. But Trilby can’t do it – he even acknowledges that he’s probably already accomplished his goal and has no need to drag the kid through the rubble too. To the kid’s credit, he refused to let Trilby off the hook, thus setting up a conclusion I honestly didn’t see coming. The movie’s aftermath is satisfying in that we finally see Trilby deal with his father issues in a manner that is believable but not too pessimistic. (It’s important to see that Trilby’s note to his father, the note that provides the narration we’ve heard throughout the movie, is torn up in front of him, but then pieced back together again AFTER TRILBY IS GONE. Which means that Trilby is unaware that his father got the message. And yet, maybe it’s not important for Trilby to know that – he’s accomplished his task just by getting in the championship and getting that note to the person who he needed to confront.) The movie’s final moment, of Trilby and the boy chasing down teenage bullies in a former police car, doesn’t provide a pat happy ending, but it does fit with Trilby’s basic character and it tells the audience that in his own way, he’s making the effort. (By the way, none of this is meant to endorse Trilby’s actions of taking a child to skid row or driving recklessly with a minor in the car…)
Bad Words will be released on July 8th on Blu-ray and DVD. The Blu-ray includes the movie in high definition picture and sound, along with a commentary by Jason Bateman, a few deleted/extended scenes and a short featurette. The Blu-ray also includes the DVD edition in the packaging, along with instructions for downloading a digital copy.
Bad Words is presented in a 2.40:1 1080p AVC encode (@ an average 34 mbps) that presents the movie in a satisfying manner. It’s important to remember this movie was intentionally shot in a muted palette – with a brownish look and desaturated colors.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
Bad Words has an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix (@ an average 3.5 mbps, going up to 4.7 mbps in the bigger moments), that’s fairly clear with the dialogue and the unobtrusive score. The movie is also presented in a DTS 5.1 mix in Spanish.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Bad Words comes with a scene-specific commentary by Jason Bateman, a few deleted scenes and a short featurette on the making of the movie. It’s not a lot, but it does provide as much of a look at the movie as one could wish for. All the special features are available both on the Blu-ray and the DVD editions.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Commentary with Jason Bateman – (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – Jason Bateman provides a scene-specific commentary, in which he recounts many stories about the making of the movie. He’s fairly dry at times, and even goes silent for patches of the movie, but then he’ll pipe up with an interesting account of how the action at hand got into the movie. Some of his observations are a bit telling – he admits having placed much of the action at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Los Angeles due to it being convenient for his real-life parenting needs. (He could drop his son off at school and then come to work for a couple of weeks of the shoot…) He notes how some of the footage of kids at the spelling bees in the movie was actually shot without any of the kids knowing they were being filmed. He repeatedly thanks his fellow cast members for agreeing to do the movie – considering this was a low budget movie and his first directorial effort. There are moments of silence, but when Bateman talks, it’s interesting to hear his perspective.
Deleted/Extended Scenes (6:37, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – Several deleted scenes and scene extensions are provided here, including an added coda to Trilby’s opening confrontation with some prissy schoolteachers and an extra scene with Allison Janney. There’s nothing particularly critical here, and it’s easy to see why the material was cut in the first place. The scenes are presented in an unchaptered pile, so the only way to see them is all at once.
The Minds and Mouths Behind Bad Words (10:32, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This is a pretty basic featurette covering the making of the movie, including interview soundbites with Jason Bateman, screenwriter Andrew Dodge and some of the cast. Several pieces of footage are included to show Bateman working both as an actor and a director at the same time, along with some outtakes of sequences where people either cracked up (a love scene between Bateman and Hahn, for example) or where Bateman encouraged ad-libs to see what would work best.
Previews (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – Trailers for six other movies are presented here: The World’s End, For A Good Time, Call, Beginners, Moonrise Kingdom, A Haunted House and Hit & Run. The trailers can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” option.
DVD – The Blu-ray packaging includes the DVD edition of the movie, presenting it in standard definition with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English and Spanish (@448 kbps). The DVD includes all the special features from the Blu-ray, including the previews, albeit in standard definition.
Digital/Ultraviolet Copy – The packaging has an insert that contains instructions for downloading a digital or ultraviolet copy of the movie.
Subtitles are available in English, Spanish and French for the film itself, as well as for the special features. A standard chapter menu is included for quick reference.
Bad Words comes across fairly well on Blu-ray. Technically, the high definition transfer and sound are fine, and the bonus materials are interesting and thankfully brief. The key here is the movie itself, which is caustic at times, but nowhere near as mean as one might think from the advertising. It’s probably more accurate to think of this as an example of an overgrown kid behaving badly for much of the time. Fans of Jason Bateman will enjoy his first work as a director, as well as the unexpectedly sweet story of kids, adults and spelling. Again, curious viewers are recommended to rent this title if they’re so inclined. This is not exactly family viewing material, but it should be fun for discerning adults.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Reviewed By: Kevin EK
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