'Bad Words' Trailer: Jason Bateman Meets 'Bad Santa' Meets Words

December 10, 2013


For his feature directorial debut, Jason Bateman seems to have borrowed the gradually-endearing misanthrope from pal Vince Vaughn's playbook to make what's something like The Internship cut with 2002's Spellbound. In Bad Words, Bateman stars as an asshole who manages to get into the spelling bee circuit thanks to his never officially passing the 8th grade. (The Scripps National Spelling Bee evidently uses the same vague, sloppy rulebook that's let Air Bud repeatedly enter junior high competitions.) He also acts like a huge dick all the time, harassing the kids with weight comments and his racist wit. That's fine, though, because it's all for the set up of his redemption arc, during which he befriends a nerdy Indian competitor, reveals whatever prior trauma is driving him to humiliate children, and probably ends up getting Kathryn Hahn to fall for him. Is that classic "Bad (Fill in the Blank)" movie or what?

So that pretty much lays out that film. The only question left is: is the more deliberate homage to late '90s auteurs the quick Rushmore copycat shot or Bateman's shoving Philip Baker Hall back into a child genius competition?

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