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We had conflicting feelings about this vulgar comedy, written, directed, produced and starring Jason Bateman.
Bateman plays 400year-old Guy Trilby, a foul-mouthed grammar school dropout who enters the national spelling bee for reasons he cares not to reveal. Citing the rule that states that no one who has passed the 8th grade may enter, he tells the judges that he never made it that far in school.
The problem with the movie is that Trilby is not a likeable character. In fact, he is worse than despicable. He plays nasty, dirty tricks on his other contestants, forcing them to lose their cool and quit. Some of them are downright disgusting.
Rohan Chand is a delightful young actor who plays Chaitanya Chopra, a lonely 10-year-old who relentlessly seeks Guy’s friendship. Guy insults him, curses him and his family, and rejects him at every turn. The kid eventually wins him over and they bond.
Here’s our problem with the movie: Bateman, the writer and the actor, has this kid saying the F bomb and worse, (we didn’t think a kid could say those words on camera), drinking liquor, leering at an exposed prostitute, lying and stealing, It is all a bit too much.
Kathryn Hahn plays an Internet reporter who sponsors Trilby and follows him around to get a story. She even sleeps with him, hoping to uncover his motive for competing with the kids. His motive is revealed as the contest comes down to the final two. You can guess who they are.
A clever premise is ruined by an overly obscene approach. Too bad.
Rated a very big R for all the reasons mentioned.