Bad Words

Rated 3.0

A middle-aged man (Jason Bateman, who also directed, and smoothly) uses a loophole in the rules to enter a national spelling bee for junior-high students, and he advances easily up the tournament levels, making a mockery of the whole process, to the frustrated rage of students, parents and administrators—except for one youngster (Rohan Chand, very likable) who somehow wants to be his friend. Andrew Dodge's script is raunchy, profane and definitely not for kids. Bateman's character is (mostly) bitter and unlikable. Still, the movie is funny in a quirky I-can't-believe-he-just-did-that way, and unpredictable enough to pull us in despite ourselves. Kathryn Hahn is hilarious as Bateman's neurotic novice lawyer, and old pros Allison Janney and Philip Baker Hall are along as the bee's exasperated bigwigs. J.L.