Focus Features has purchased worldwide rights to Jason Bateman's directorial debut "Bad Words," which made its world premiere Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Bateman also stars in the dark comedy, in which he finds a loophole that allows him to compete in and dominate spelling bee competitions usually reserved for children.
Indiewire's Eric Kohn reviewed the film, recalling that Jason Bateman has described the film as "'Bad Santa' with spelling bees." Kohn says that comparison is "so evident in the material that it's practically a remake." Writes Kohn,
Taking cues from Andrew Dodge's Blacklist screenplay, "Bad Words" has a caustic wit that puts its comedy in league with "Bad Santa," but just barely delivers on the cruel intensions of the premise without deepening it, as the aforementioned precedent does so well. It's less of a showcase for Bateman's ability to direct comedic storytelling than simply to make people laugh, which makes "Bad Words" a sufficiently vulgar playground.
Focus plans to release the film in 2014.