IHAO on ... Bad Words
I can go ahead and start by saying that this film is not going to be for everyone. Not everyone in the audience is going to be able to get into this film. And I very much understand that. It is marketed as a comedy, because it is the smart way to market it, but it is really a character-dissection drama. That'll turn people away. The people who go in actually expecting the dramatic aspects will potentially be pushed away by the comedy, especially the more "over the top" bits, though I do not personally find them over the top. And some may not be interested in the way the film culminates. I get all that.
I say all that because I believe this movie is incredibly well made. Jason Bateman, as director, is really really flawless here. The shots he uses, the tone he creates, the consistency he is able to pull out of this slightly uneven script is truly masterful. I think of other actors first outing directing, and this is many steps above those in talent and skill. Bateman really does understand what he's doing here. The acting from everyone is really great. Grounded, believable, and interesting. Every character has dimensions, and a lot of meat to them, and I have to give everyone, the actors, the writer, Bateman, the editor, everyone credit for that.
The script is ... mostly consistent. There are few comedy-hiccups where it is trying a little hard, such as the two sex scenes and a scene where a more comedic than most character is hitting on our female protagonist. Those hiccups are not enough for me to be taken out of the film for more than a blip because of how deftly Bateman handles them. I've directed a few shows, and there are somethings that are in your script that are hard to keep tonally consistent and on track with your vision for the script and your show, and Bateman flawlessly fights against the script's want to get very jokey, and I really appreciate that skill and deft handling.
Ok, so what is the film about. A man, Guy Trilby, for reasons unknown, is exploiting the loopholes in a prestigious spelling bee to make his way to the top, pissing off everyone along the way: kids, parents, his own journalist partner who is helping him to tell the story for her online newspaper, even the people running the bee themselves. The film is about figuring who Trilby is, and watching him make his way to the top, and how his terrible behavior affects those around him. The climax of the film is a little ... iffy, and honestly the worst part of the movie for me, but it is a false climax, with the true character-driven climax to follow that I found to be very fulfilling. And the denouement at the end, while a little schmaltzy, I felt was ultimately earned.
There are certain people I know who will absolutely love this film. And a lot of people will never be able to get into it. It is a film that will more than likely live on in Netflix views, but to very little acclaim. And that's unfortunate. I highly suggest viewing this film ... to some of you. I could name a few by name, but overall, I hope what I've written here can help you decide if this is the right film for you.