Bad Words, Sabotage – Movie Reviews

Bad WordsBad Words – R
Release Date: Fri 28 Mar 2014

Jason Bateman directs and stars in this comedy about a 40-year-old man named Guy Trilby (Bateman) who is competing in the Golden Quill spelling bee through a loophole in the rules. Because he has not passed the 8th grade before a certain date (Guy has never passed the 8th grade) he is eligible despite his age and his perfect spelling skills as a former proofreader. Guy is being sponsored and followed by a journalist (Kathryn Hahn) who is trying to find out why he is doing this, while another contestant Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand) tries to befriend him and seems impervious to Guy’s rebukes.

Guy’s insult-based humor is perfect from Bateman, who always comes across in a superior tone and quiet voice no matter how foul the phrase is coming out of his mouth. For the character, it is an obvious defense strategy, never allowing anyone to get too close. There are a couple of pranks, and the comic match of a younger kid with an older actor brings a little of the dynamic of Bad Grandpa, but it doesn’t feel like that for long. This is Guy’s story and not a buddy comedy.

If you can’t see humor in Guy’s verbal abuse or completely unfair treatment of his nine and ten-year-old competition, this movie will not work for you. For everyone else, it’s fun to imagine this sort of character existing to run circles around both kids and adults in his way. He’s unapologetically crude, but these bad words are good enough for a few laughs.

Cal, Jeremiah and I saw it in the theater had a discussion in the car:

SabotageSabotage – R
Release Date: Fri 28 Mar 2014

Part mystery, part action, part duct-tape, Sabotage is a combination of genres that may have worked better with a more consistent tone and a more convincing leading man. Forget what the trailer (red band or otherwise) – this movie is not about a wisecracking group of special forces figuring out who framed them for stealing cartel money. Instead the movie makes insane tonal shifts as though several ideas were mashed together with only the subtly of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s performance to hold the pieces together. Subtlety is not the man’s strength.

The movie opens with Schwarzenegger’s Breacher watching a genuinely horrific video of his wife being tortured to death. The scene is hard to watch, and is followed by a “several months later” card and Breacher leading his team of DEA enforcers into a hostile situation. They crack wise and begin to endear themselves to the audience. Particularly Lizzy, played as a gleefully drug-addicted psycho by Mireille Enos, who seems to be having fun. In fact, the whole thing seems to be setting a tone of fun “bro-down” military action until it turns out that the crew actually are planning to smuggle out ten million dollars in seized drug money. However, after carefully hiding the money in a sewer line they come back to find that one of them has betrayed the rest by getting there first and stealing the cash.

The majority of the rest of the movie is dealing with finding the true culprit who starts a manhunt in earnest when members of the team start being murdered. Breacher reluctantly teams with Caroline (Olivia Williams) a local Atlanta detective who lands the case after the first body falls. One by one the team is eliminated until the culprit is found, and a couple of twists later we’re left with an utterly disappointing reveal and climax that feels like a sad epilogue. The mystery never really sinks in and relies on characters outright giving up and saying they’re culpable. The humor is long gone by the third act and while the cast is filled with fine actors, Breacher is the pivotal role and Schwarzenegger just doesn’t cut it when the script calls for more than one-liners and chastising.

Add in the sin of not bothering to license or use the Beastie Boys song that should have been part of the action and you’ve got a hot mess of a film. Sabotage indeed.

Cal, Jeremiah and I saw it in the theater had a discussion in the car:


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