“Spelling bees hold a special place in my heart. No, I never competed in one. But I did direct a musical about them. It’s a cute and funny character driven show that gives me warm fuzzies and happy thoughts, so by association, spelling bees in general have the same effect. However, I think by now you know me to not be the overly sentimental type. So the idea of an irreverent bee infiltrated by a smug Jason Bateman very much excited me.
In a rare twist, I actually went into this without having seen a trailer. Besides a few small blurbs in EW saying how great the movie was, I went into it with a pretty clear mind. I really had no idea what to expect from Mr Bateman’s directorial debut. I didn’t know the cast included wonderful comediennes Kathryn Hahn and Allison Janey, or revered veteran Philip Baker Hall. I’d hoped for a smart and snarky screenplay, but that too was a big question mark.
There was certainly a level of awkward to get thru. While an adult participating in a bee along with 12 year olds obviously wouldn’t be comfortable, the early rounds did make for some squirms in my seat. Awkward is difficult to watch sometimes. And it took a while for the film to find its momentum.
I did appreciate the mystery element. Why was he so intent on doing this and how was he going to pull it off? They really did hold off as long as possible until revealing the why, and I think it was a big asset in keeping engaged with the film. I also was drawn to our little star Rohan Chand, who was so incredibly full of charisma. I’m also used to seeing Bateman as the lovable but stepped on good guy, so seeing him as the antithesis was a lot of fun.
Overall, I think the awkward kind of won out a bit, making the 89 min movie drag. I could have used a bit more clever in the biting dialog, but I do give them props for the unique premise. Maybe not as good as the buzz, but a fun blast of humor added to my spring movie season.
Bad Words – \m/ \m/ \n