First Hit: Funny at times but were the reasons for his behavior enough to justify his acting this way – I didn’t buy it.
A 40+ year old Guy Trilby (Justin Bateman) takes advantage of junior high spelling bee rules so that he can enter and win. The story is why? He’s got a Jane Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn), a reporter, writing a story about his attempt to win the Golden Quill (think Scripts) world famous spelling bee and hopefully tell the story as to why.
She is paying for his hotel and travel expenses and is having a hell of a time getting Guy’s story out of him. Why would Guy face the vile words thrown at him from fellow spelling bee competitor’s parents and organizers just to get to the Golden Quill final? We do learn and I won’t reveal it here – and to be quite frank, it wasn’t enough for him to act the way he did to the other kids.
I think the screenplay writer and Bateman, as director, could have lightened up the foul name calling and antics aimed at the kids, and made a more engaging and likable story. The other option would have to change the story line and made it aimed at older people – therefore making the name calling a little more equalized and age appropriate.
To create a soft spot for Guy’s role, we have a young man, Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand), who is left by himself because his parents want to have him learn life’s lessons, befriending Guy. His persistence by asking Guy questions and making conversation, breaks through and make many of the scenes of him and Guy out on the town funny and endearing. However, the overall vengeful tone is more than I enjoyed.
Bateman was occasionally good but the character was over done most of the time. Because he was also the director I would also aim most of the film’s issues directly at Bateman. Hahn was good in her role as the reporter trying to get a story and have a relationship. Chand was fantastic and was the star of this film. Philip Baker Hall as the Quill’s founder, Dr. Bowman, was OK. I found some of his word enunciation (slurring) raised questions to me about his viability and don't think it was on purpose. Allison Janney’s performance as Dr. Bernice Deagan, Quill’s director was strong. Andrew Dodge wrote the screen play. For me it went too far in the way he had Guy speak to children. Bateman directed this and really had the ability to make a better film than he did.
Overall: I was disappointed at the level of negative energy directed at the kids by the main character.