Bad Words

 
photo for Jason Bateman makes his feature directorial debut and also stars in a quirky comedy about a disgruntled middle-aged man who hijacks a national spelling bee and verbally mows down his competition — eighth graders. And he’s unstoppable — contest officials, outraged parents, and overly ambitious students can’t persuade him to end his “jihad” or uncover his motivations. Bateman has made a habit of playing lovable losers in most of his recent starring roles (“Identity Thief,” “The Switch”), but here he goes against that grain by taking on a role that tests the boundaries of main character likeability. And, despite its subject matter — a kids spelling bee — the film is rated ‘R’. A wonderfully auspicious first outing for Bateman. Extras: Deleted and extended scenes, “The Minds and Mouths Behind Bad Words,” commentary with Jason Bateman. Vitals: Director: Jason Bateman. Stars: Jason Bateman, Rohan Chand, Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, Philip Baker Hall, Judith Hoag, Beth Grant. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 89 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $7.738 million, Universal. 3 stars

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