This is what I have been wanting to see for a while...Bateman playing AGAINST type. I look forward to this.
The over-the-top insults and absurdity of the situation are parts of why the mean-spirited comedy works; the other essential part is Bateman. His attacks are so powerful not only because of the words, but because he says them so dismissively. His victims aren’t even worth the effort to get angry. But Bateman is so clean-cut and his delivery so gentle and soothing that every insult hits like a sucker punch. Or to use another violent analogy, Guy is hilarious because he takes down his opponents in one cut rather than slowly, sadistically turning the knife. He doesn’t relish insulting other people. He’s just brilliant at it.
However, the movie is incredibly conscious of not taking its comedy so far as to alienate the audience. Bateman peppers the score with mischievous music, shoots in a dry, detached style (although there are some awkward lens flares) except when Guy is partying with Chaitanya. Chaitanya also has to be Guy’s polar opposite to provide some semblance of sweetness to the movie. His golly-gee manner makes him like a punching bag clown that Guy hits and then springs right back up again still smiling. Chaitanya’s relationship with Guy is the constant reminder that Guy may be an incredible ass-hole, but not a complete monster.
Some will find Guy Trilby completely irredeemable even when his true motive is revealed, and some of his insults, especially the ones directed at Chaitanya, may make some audience members cringe. Most viewers should be aware of their tolerance limit for mean-spirited comedy, and if you don’t know your limit, Bad Words will certainly test it. For my part, comedy either works or it doesn’t, and it works when the people who make the jokes know what they’re doing. Bateman’s directing isn’t audacious, but he’s the perfect choice for this kind of role, and the main reason why Bad Words can give a big, smiling middle finger to dejected children.