“Bad Words” is very much a weaker companion piece to Bad Santa and that’s a shame. Certainly Jason Bateman has a cute factor that Billy Bob Thornton did not. It’s the writing that falls short for me, and this is my fresh take with only noting the IMDB ratings (Bad Words at 7.6 and Bad Santa 7.2). I haven’t even looked at Rotten Tomatoes yet, in an attempt to be a movie blogger pioneer.
Here’s why Bad Santa is superior:
More moments: In ‘Santa’, there were more moments between Billy Bob and his ‘romantic interest’, and we actually see how they met, which to a romantic is always fun to watch.
Having Jason’s motive be mysterious for the first two thirds of the film is fine, but a great script can still tease its audience with a few emotional fits and starts. Yes, the sex scenes in “Words” are funny, but unless we see a glint of reflection in Bateman, it remains flat and slapstick-ish.
More fleshed out side kicks: Tony Cox, Bernie Mac and John Ritter absolutely made the movie Bad Santa almost as much as Billy Bob did. Their comic timing, like Ritter’s squeamish reactions to Bernice Mac’s orange eating bombasity is a classic.
In “Words” Katherine Hahn and Allison Janey aren’t give enough screen time to help round out the plot. Both are great actresses (Hahn most recently as the outspoken sexually confused wife Afternoon Delight and a nerdy scream in We Are the Millers and Janey is a master at sarcastic comedy “Juno” and “The Way Way Back”).
More angst for the little boy sidekick: In Bad Santa, our chubby friend gets wedgies, has a pathetic runny nose, and has a close to comatose grandma (Cloris Leachman!!!!!!!) as a guardian.
In “Words” we don’t see the Middle Eastern boy (Rohan Chand) get bullied until the last scene of the movie, the dad is merely a helicopter parent who makes his kid stay in a second rate hotel. I’ve learned in screen writing courses that you must make your protagonists suffer and for both Bateman and Chand their lives are simply too easy for acclaimed movie land.
The “Bad Words” sound track is hard driving blues that fits perfectly with the slow motion scenes of tomfoolery, but those don’t equate meaningful moments for the viewer, more like cotton candy that evaporates in our minds.
Don’t get me wrong, I did like this film overall though not my internet-dating-site date who let me pay for both tickets and who left 15 cnets as a tip for his beerL But my revelation to start heading out solo more often (with an eye out for intelligent, witty men over 50) is a positive learning experience. In addition, any time this school marm sees a movie where intellectualism is aspired to, is one happy evening for me .