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Bad Words

“The end justifies the mean.” That’s one of the tag lines for Bad Words. And that pretty well sums it up, because you spend the majority of the movie waiting to discover why the main character is such a prick. Pardon my language, but seriously, that’s the most appropriate word to describe Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old man who forces his way into a kids’ national spelling bee competition by exploiting a loophole in the eligibility rules. The usually-endearing Jason Bateman takes a walk on the dark and crude side to play Trilby in this R-rated comedy that also marks his feature directorial debut. At first, it’s hard to buy the baby-faced Bateman as an evil spelling genius who’s willing to do whatever it takes to sink his young and emotionally-vulnerable competition. But by the third or fourth ‘oh no, he di’int’ moment, bad Bateman becomes believable.