Pin It

Role Models 

Bateman goes dark, Captain steps up

click to enlarge film.jpg

Bad Words

Reviews

BAD WORDS. Since his resurgence on TV's Arrested Development (a handful of hilarious movie cameos notwithstanding), Jason Bateman has been remade as a sort of put-upon everyman/icon. With Ben Stiller becoming a victim of his own newfound sincerity, Bateman the new face face of frustrated good intentions, the likeable loser destined to catch a break, eventually. Not so with this, his feature debut as director/star, wherein he is almost wantonly unlikeable.

Bateman's Guy Trilby, a hard-drinking 40-year-old misanthrope, has something to prove. Having dedicated himself to learning esoteric words and exploiting the rulebook, Trilby is in the process of winning a regional spelling bee when the movie opens. His victory, along with his foul mouth and generally hateful demeanor, enrages the parents of his child opponents, as well as the event organizers. But there is little they can do to stop him, so it's off to Los Angeles for the national finals.

Accompanying Trilby is Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn), a "reporter" for the news website bankrolling his venture. She tries to get inside his head, he refuses, and they engage in a series of off-putting sexual encounters. When they aren't in bed, he affords her zero respect or regard. Likewise Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand), a young competitor who attempts to befriend Trilby. The boy does make some inroads, but when his motives come into question it sparks an escalating conflict.

The protagonist's motivation for all of this is obscured through much of the movie, but its reveal doesn't come as much of a surprise. From that moment on, Bad Words switches from caustic, raunchy comedy to a maudlin drama about parenthood and perpetual adolescence. This is a jarring transition — as unpleasant and cruel as Trilby seems in the first two acts, he's still pretty funny. And an R-rated comedy is rare, so it feels like a disappointing bait and switch for one to dissolve into a predictable, safe ending like this.

The cast is solid, Bateman directs with a sure hand and there are some truly funny moments. But the uneven tone of the narrative and the surrender to sensitivity and likeability sacrifice much of the darkly enjoyable nastiness the movie promises early on. R. 89m.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. The first installment in this franchise left a minimal impression on me. I enjoyed the richness of the detail in its World War II setting, and I recall Hugo Weaving going stone crazy as a Nazi scientist, but that's about it. Having seen the trailer for part two — with neither World War II details nor insane war criminals — several dozen times, my enthusiasm was tempered. To my relief, The Winter Soldier is a much stronger, if unnecessarily long and noisy, movie than its predecessor.

Chris Evans reprises his role as Captain America/Steve Rogers. He's doing his level best to get acclimated to life in the 21st century, but he's struggling. Warfare and loyalty don't seem to have the same meanings in the modern world as they did in the '40s. Right in the middle of his existential dilemma, unknown forces stage a seemingly fatal attack on S.H.I.E.L.D. head Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Fury tells the Captain to trust no one, and that the agency has been compromised. Soon enough, Captain America is a fugitive from his own agency, lamming it with the help of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and newfound ally the Falcon (Anthony Mackie). They must combat a sinister faction rising within S.H.I.E.L.D. that's planning preemptive drone genocide in the name of national security. Oh, and a Soviet-engineered super-soldier with a metal arm and no remorse (the fellow from the title).

As with any Marvel franchise movie, the plot is secondary to the quippy dialogue and set-piece action sequences, and I'm okay with that. Evans has grown into his starring role, and he'd be hard-pressed to ask for better supporting actors. And the airborne battle climax is pretty damned exciting. Even though it trades a historical setting for ultra-modern spy-craft, this is by far the more enjoyable Captain America (even at more than two and half hours). PG13. 136m.

Previews

DRAFT DAY. Kevin Costner is the general manager for the Cleveland Browns, wheeling and dealing to get the team he wants in this NFL pressure cooker. PG13. 109m.

THE LUNCHBOX. A chance encounter leads to strange pen pals in Mumbai. PG. 104m.

OCULUS. Karen Gillian tries to prove her parents were killed by a haunted antique mirror and clear her brother's name. Should ruin rummage sales for everyone. R. 105m.

THE RAID 2. Rama returns with a badge and a grudge. People are going to get kicked. R. 149m.

RIO 2. The birds visit the Amazonian jungle to spend time with the in-laws, sing, dance and battle the evil Nigel. G. 101m.

Continuing

DIVERGENT. Veronica Roth's Myers-Briggs dystopia — in which extraordinary teens are targets of state oppression — gets the Hunger Games franchise marketing treatment. PG13. 139m.

GOD'S NOT DEAD. A devout college student debates his philosophy classmates and professor to prove God exists. It's harder to convince us that Kevin Sorbo is a professor. PG. 113m.

GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. Wes Anderson's Instagram-toned tale of hotel intrigue with concierge-Romeo Ralph Fiennes is his funniest and best written yet. PG13. 138m.

MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN. Charming and fun animated adventure about a brainy cartoon pooch named Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell), his adopted human son and a time rift. PG. 92m.

MUPPETS MOST WANTED. The Muppets hit Europe and encounter doppelgangers, jewel heists and celebrity cameos. Swell turns by Ty Burrell and Tina Fey, both trying to ensnare Kermit one way or another. PG. 112m.

NOAH. Darren Aronofsky made a CG biblical disaster movie, and lo, it was frustrating and all over the place. With Russell Crowe as the pre-FEMA hero trying to keep heads above water. PG13. 138m.

— Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Trailers







Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Rated PG-13 · 135 min. · 2014
Official Site: marvel.com/captainamerica
Director: Joe Russo and Anthony Russo
Writer: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley
Producer: Kevin Feige
Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson
Rio 2
Rated G · 101 min. · 2014
Official Site: www.rio-themovie.com
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Writer: Don Rhymer and Carlos Saldanha
Producer: John C. Donkin and Bruce Anderson
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, will.i.am, Jermaine Clement, Tracy Morgan, George Lopez, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Jamie Foxx and Andy Garcia
Bad Words
Rated R · 89 min. · 2014
Official Site: BadWordsMovie.com
Director: Jason Bateman
Writer: Andrew Dodge
Cast: Jason Bateman, Rohan Chand, Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, Phillip Baker Hall and Rachael Harris
The Lunchbox (Dabba)
Rated PG · 104 min. · 2014
Official Site: www.cinemosaic.net/films/dabba.html
Director: Ritesh Batra
Writer: Ritesh Batra
Producer: Lydia Dean Pilcher, Guneet Monga and Arun Rangachari
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Denzil Smith, Bharati Achrekar, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Nakul Vaid, Yashvi Puneet Nagar and Lillete Dubey
Draft Day
Rated PG-13 · 110 min. · 2014
Official Site: DraftDayMovie.com
Director: Ivan Reitman
Writer: Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman
Cast: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Tom Welling, Sam Elliott, Terry Crews, Ellen Burstyn, Rosanna Arquette, Frank Langella and Chi McBride
Oculus
Rated R · 105 min. · 2014
Official Site: oculus2014.com
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writer: Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard
Producer: Trevor Macy Marc D. Evans
Cast: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Rory Cochrane and Katee Sackhoff
The Raid 2
Rated R · 148 min. · 2014
Official Site: www.sonyclassics.com/theraid2
Director: Gareth Huw Evans
Writer: Gareth Huw Evans
Producer: Ario Sagantoro, Nate Bolotin, Nick Spicer, Aram Tertzakian and Todd Brown
Cast: Iko Uwais, Tio Pakusadewo, Putra Arifin Scheunamann, Julie Estelle, Alex Abbad and Roy Marten

Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Bad Words, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Draft Day, Oculus, Rio 2, The Lunchbox (Dabba), or The Raid 2

  • Pin It
  • Bateman goes dark, Captain steps up

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

About The Author

John J. Bennett

more from the author

  • Canon Fire

    Squandered Squad and a champion Hunt
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • The Outsiders

    Rogue agents, dads and moms
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • Turn Off

    Dim Lights and phaser fun
    • Jul 28, 2016
  • More »

Latest in Filmland

  • Bros in Arms

    The moral desert of War Dogs
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Let's be Frank

    Sausage Party and Weiner-dog
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • Canon Fire

    Squandered Squad and a champion Hunt
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

© 2016 The North Coast Journal Weekly

Website powered by Foundation

humboldt