Bad Words, Wild

Bad Words

Jason Bateman stars and directs a movie about a guy who finds a loophole in a national spelling bee. Since he never graduated from high school, he is able to join a bunch of pre-teens in the big competition. As an adult, of course, he obliterates the kids. He psyches them out, screws with them after-hours, and bangs a journalist who is following him around, wondering why the hell he is doing all this. Bateman has a secret, the true reason for joining. It isn’t revealed until the final minutes of the film, and it’s completely out of left field, preposterous, and utterly pointless. The big reveal lets what little air was in this heap of a film out. The bulk of the movie sees Bateman befriending a young Indian kid with absentee parents. They bond over cuss words and some really pathetically forced scenes. This movie fails hard all the way around. It isn’t funny or dramatic or interesting in the slightest. It’s one of those films where the concept is brilliant, but the execution is piss-poor.

Verdict: Shitty


Reese Witherspoon tried to break out of her rom-com stereotype with this movie, taking on double-duty as both star and producer. I commend her for trying, and I also commend her for turning in a decent performance. She really does have some dramatic acting chops, and I completely believed her in the role. Unfortunately, this is a dog of a movie, with a turd of a script, which tries to force drama down your throat, and ends up being more unintentionally funny than anything else.

Witherspoon plays a sex-addict/drug-addict who is trying to pick up the pieces of her life after her mother dies from cancer. She thinks that hiking 1100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail will be life changing. She struggles in the elements, and she meets interesting people along the way. All of the hiking parts were really good. Sadly, though, the movie focuses on the reasons why she went on the hike. They are doled out in fragmented flashbacks, so you don’t know the whole story until late in the film. 60% of the film is flashbacks to her fucked-up life of fucking random dudes and shooting IV heroin, and 40% of the film is about her shot at redemption. Character motivations are generally more interesting, but they failed to make them so here. They could have easily condensed the flashbacks by half. The way it is now, you feel like you are relentlessly beaten over the head with all her tribulations until you are more exhausted than the character. And, wouldn’t you know it, at the end she is a changed woman. Yeah, sure. You expect us to believe that a depressed, sex/drug-addict suddenly lives a happy life and becomes completely sober because they went hiking? That’s a tough one to buy.

Verdict: Bad

6 Responses to “Bad Words, Wild”

  1. April 19, 2016 at 4:38 am

    Gotta disagree with Bad Words – I really enjoyed it, a lot in some spots. I thought the idea of a guy going into kids spelling bees with some ulterior motive was a stroke of genius, and I felt this film was one of Bateman’s better roles on-screen (normally I’m hit and miss with him, but here – as with The Gift – he was on-point) and I liked Katherine Hahn as well.

    I haven’t seen Wild yet but the wife wants to check it out so I’ll let you know.

    • April 19, 2016 at 12:50 pm

      I, too, liked the idea of him going in to the spelling bee with an ulterior motive. But when it was revealed it just fell flat for me. Bateman was fine, I suppose, in the role, but most of the comedy of the film didn’t work for me.

      Wild just spends way too much time beating the audience over the head with Witherspoon’s haunted past. It takes away from the redemption aspect of the story. That should have been the focus, I think, instead of what she was running from.

  2. 3 asa
    April 20, 2016 at 3:48 am

    I’m gonna sound like a nitpicky dick but she hiked 1,000 miles of the PCT, which isn’t even halfway. I guess 50% of a redemptive road was enough to give up heroin, but maybe she still loved fuckin

  3. April 20, 2016 at 7:41 am

    Wild wasn’t all that bad. Not a totally enjoyable film, but it’s been one of Reese Witherspoon’s more interesting roles in a long time. Yeah, I agree, the haunted past schtick is a little heavy handed. Could definitely have had less of the past and more of the present – see how she’s struggling with the past without using the flashbacks as a crutch. But still, I liked the film. Good performance from Reese and had some beautiful cinematography.

    • April 20, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      As you said, the flashbacks seem like a crutch. You could also refer to them as an anchor, weighing down the present-day narrative. It wasn’t altogether horrible, but could have been a lot better in my book.

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April 2016


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